Some 11,713 persons are living with a disability in Guyana, according to a household survey conducted by the National Commission on Disability.
The survey was conducted in Regions 2, 3, 5, and 10 while a pilot was done in Region 6 in 2016.
Region 3 had the highest number of persons with disabilities, followed by Region 6.
Disabilities were categorised as physical/mobility disability, visual/seeing disability, hearing/speech disability, learning/cognitive, mental health and medical/other disability.
In Region Two (Pomeroon Supenaam), there were 1,249 recorded cases of which 40.1% persons had physical disabilities, 20.6% had hearing or speech disabilities, 7% had learning disabilities, 23.1% had visual disabilities, 7.4% had mental health disabilities, and 1.8% had another type of disability.
In Region Three (Essequibo Island – West Demerara), there were 3,896 cases of which 33.7% had physical disabilities, 16.9% had hearing disabilities, 11.7% had learning disabilities, 29.2% had visual disabilities, 5.4% had mental health disabilities, and 3.2% had another type of disability.
For Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), there were 1,588 cases of which 38.7% of the persons had a physical disability, 20.2% had a hearing disability, 8.6% had a learning disability, 18.6% had a visual disability, 10.5% had a mental health disability, and 3.3% had another form of disability.
In Region Ten (Upper Demerara-Berbice), there were 1,718 cases of which 31.5% were physical, 16.4% were hearing, 14.3% were learning, 28.5% were visual, 6.9% were mental, and 2.4% were other.
Avonel Corrica, an advocacy and Communications Officer attached to the National Commission on Disability, explained that the data becomes useful for policymakers.
For example, it can be used when government prepares a budget or plans the construction of new facilities.
Also, to cater for the hearing and speech impaired, public institutions and buildings will be expected to have in place, persons specialising in sign language to help with communication.
“We want to ensure that we have figures to place to issues when it comes to disability in the regions because we don’t want to assume that there is a certain amount of persons with disabilities in the region and there is nothing to actually validate. So, we did this survey to ascertain their needs their capacities, what assistive devices they might need as well as some services they are entitled to for instance education relating to the disability act,” she stated.
This survey has also highlighted to the commission, the number of unregistered persons with disabilities currently residing in the country. Corrica noted that with this information, the Guyana Society for the Blind has already tapped into the Commission’s database to reach this demographic.