Today Tuesday 3rd December marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This Government has taken big strides in creating a more accessible Gibraltar for people with disabilities, the initiatives and achievements realized by the Ministry of Equality have been unprecedented in Gibraltar.
To mark the event, the Ministry of Equality is holding an information stand outside the International Commercial Centre this morning and members of the team will be at hand to give information on the number of initiatives that have been rolled out by the Department. If there is adverse weather, the team will be setting up inside one of the pedestrian tunnels between Casemates and Market Place.
The initiatives, launched under the Ministry’s two different strategies, namely ‘Equality Means Business’ and ‘Gibraltar; everybody different, everybody equal’ have the joint focus of making Gibraltar more accessible. Some notable initiatives under these strategies include the Disability Information Card, RADAR Key Pilot Scheme, Accessible Public Toilet leaflets, Disability Awareness Training and Disability guidance booklets.
The Disability Information Card was launched in October this year, people with disabilities can now apply for a Card that contains information about their specific disability. Where the circumstances deem it necessary, this will enable the Card holder to inform any person who may need to know about their disability in a discreet manner without anybody else having to find out.
The RADAR Key Pilot Scheme was also launched in October this year, people with disabilities who cannot use a standard toilet and who would benefit from having access to accessible public toilets may apply for a Key. The benefits of this Key are that users can access a public toilet after its closing times and this will allow them to be able to stay out for longer. The first location that can be accessed with this RADAR Key, after opening hours, is the Market Place Accessible Toilet.
The Ministry of Equality was certified by the UK Charity, Attitude is Everything (UK) to deliver awareness training on Disability Language and Etiquette in 2017. Training throughout the public sector has been ongoing since and the private sector were also involved too. More recently, Disability training to PGCE students was provided last week and there is also a scheduled presentation, that is to be given to members of the Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses at one of their Breakfast Club meetings. The aim of this training is to give a taster of what an actual awareness training is about in order to show what the benefits of businesses being inclusive to people with disabilities are.
Accessible Public Toilet Leaflets were launched in August this year. These leaflets contain information on toilets in Gibraltar that are accessible to people with disabilities. Information on their location and closing times allow planning for a day out to be that bit easier. The leaflets are available online on the Government’s website as well as available to collect from the offices of the Ministry of Equality.
The Ministry has also launched a number of booklets that raise awareness and provide guidance in relation to disabilities, the titles of the booklets that have been published are Disability Language and Etiquette, Welcoming Customers with Disabilities, Accessibility in the Workplace and Part R: Access to and use of buildings.
For further information on any of the above initiatives, including electronic versions of application forms, booklets or leaflets, please check out our webpage on the HM Government Website: https://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/department-equality. Please do not hesitate to contact the Department of Equality on 20046253 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you require any more information or assistance.
Another initiative that Government will be rolling out, announced by the Chief Minister in his last Budget Speech this year, is the tax incentive for works that are made to business premises to promote inclusion and facilitate access for people with disabilities. Businesses will be able to claim a deduction equal to the expenditure for works that are carried out to improve inclusion and access up to a maximum of £15,000.
The Minister for Equality, the Hon Samantha Sacramento MP, said: “I am very happy to say that we have come a long way since I started as Minister for Equality, even though some very innovative and breakthrough initiatives have been launched by this Government, one cannot overlook the importance of the milestone legislation that was the Disability Act, enacted in 2017. This law aims to build on and give effect to the right to not be treated less favourably and puts the rights of people with disabilities on an equal footing with everyone else’s. As I have said on previous occasions, the law by itself is not enough and in order for it to be meaningful, continuous education, awareness and training is essential to ensure that the community properly understands its obligations and becomes more responsible in the way that it treats people with disabilities. I therefore ask for each and everyone of us to look at ourselves, whatever your profession is, whether you are a business owner, a public servant, a shop keeper. Ask yourselves, what can you do to make the service that you give more accessible? Are you doing enough? These are questions we should be asking ourselves regularly to ensure that we as a community remove the barriers built by our society.”