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Gibraltar Celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities – 897/2022

By December 3, 2022 No Comments

On Saturday 3rd December Gibraltar and the world marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This day is about inclusion and promoting awareness of disabilities and how different attitudes can have a positive or negative effect on people with disabilities.

In June the Minister with responsibility for disability, the Hon Samantha Sacramento MP announced that Gibraltar would see the extension of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Considerable work has since been undertaken on this by the Ministry for Equality and the Government Law Office.

Additionally, the Minister for Equality has also announced the enactment of sections 13 and 14 of the Disability Act. Since 2017 and the publication of the Approved Document R under the Building Rules 2017, all new buildings need to be accessible. Upon the enactment of the remaining sections all existing buildings will also be required to be accessible.

An information booklet called “Gibraltar Building Rules Approved Document R – Access to and use of buildings” prepared by the Ministry of Equality and the Department of Town Planning and Building Control can be found on the Ministry of Equality’s website.

The Ministry of Equality will be announcing further information on this topic throughout 2023, which will include a public session in January next year where business and property owners will be able to learn more about their forthcoming legal obligations and ask questions to an accessibility auditor.

Property owners are further reminded that the Income Tax Disabled Access to Property (Deductions) Rules 2020, which were originally due to cease in June 2022, have been extended for a further 3 years in order to allow businesses and property owners the chance to receive a deduction of up to £15,000 for any costs in modifying a property to enhance the access to disabled individuals.

The Ministry of Equality is also excited with the opportunity this year’s Census will give HM Government of Gibraltar to better understand the makeup of Gibraltar’s population with any form of disability. The Ministry has for the last couple of years been in discussions with the Statistics Office to explore and recommend the possibility of introducing questions to determine anonymised information on people with disabilities and looks forward to the anonymised data being released.

Finally, the Ministry of Equality would also like to take this opportunity to remind the public of the successful Disability Information Card and the RADAR Key Schemes. The Disability Information Card allows the 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 Scheme allows key holders to access certain accessible public toilets after they are closed. This allows people with mobility impairments or incontinence more freedom when going out in the evenings and at night. Private entities have also enquired about this scheme with a view to installing RADAR Key Locks at their establishment.

Further information on the work the Ministry of Equality, as well as electronic versions of application forms, booklets, leaflets and other initiatives launched by the Ministry of Equality can be found on the Ministry of Equality website: https://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/department-equality.

The Minister with responsibility for Disability, the Hon Samantha Sacramento, MP, said: “Accessibility is a collective responsibility and our Government has taken very big steps in improving the lives of people with disabilities. I am very proud with the work that is being done and with the collaboration between the departments, agencies and charities; the initiatives highlighted show good examples of what can be achieved by working together towards making Gibraltar more inclusive. It is also very encouraging to see a number of charities coming up with their own ideas and working with Government to develop them. There is certainly more that needs to be done, but I am happy to see that Gibraltar has transitioned to a more inclusive place than it was when I initially came into office and became the first Minister for Equality eleven years ago. I must particularly thank everyone, be they public servants, charities or individuals who have worked behind the scenes in implementing successful initiatives and spreading awareness and the message of inclusivity. I wish to encourage everyone to continue to think about how they can help make Gibraltar more inclusive in the future and act on it.”