Six companies were recognised for ensuring equal opportunities for people with physical and mental problems yesterday.
The Disabilities Advisory Council named Sousa’s Gardens and Aberfeldy Nurseries as businesses that employed people with disabilities on a full-time basis, and Vineyard Vines and Astwood Dickinson for providing good access for people with limited mobility.
Supermarkets Lindo’s and The Supermart were also recognised for hiring disabled people in part-time posts.
Sita Ingram, chairman of the DAC, said: “What makes today important is that we would like Bermuda to recognise that there are companies across the island that do support people with disabilities, so that they can live and function like every other person in this country and provide for themselves independently.” “However, not enough of this is occurring in Bermuda.
“The DAC participated in this joint initiative with the Department of Ageing and Disability Service to identify two companies that hire people with disabilities and two companies who have made their buildings accessible. There are other businesses and agencies in Bermuda that have made it a point to do so.”
Ms Ingram was speaking as the island marked the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
The DAC was set up to advise the Minister of Health on disability work and also to support organisations and individuals with disabilities.
Ms Ingram said there were businesses in Bermuda that employed disabled people and provided the necessary opportunities and support, but that more work needed to be done.
She explained: “We do have quite a few businesses around the island who hire people either on a temporary or full-time basis and will accommodate them and support them with their challenges whether they be physiological or mental health challenges.
“There are multiple adults in the community who rely on social support to be able to function day-to-day because without transport they cannot access employment — these go hand in hand.
“Some employers identify hiring persons with disabilities as a privilege to the disabled but it is really not, employment is a right to all persons whether they are able bodied or not.
“We are not doing someone with a disability a favour by giving them a job. We are giving them the opportunity to be functioning and contributing members of our society, just like everyone else.”
Ms Ingram said the DAC and other agencies were looking to create a national disability register to help understand demand on the island.
She added: “There will need to be proper public consultation to determine what that would look like.”
Anyone interested in learning how their business can better support people with disabilities can contact Ms Ingram by e-mail at email@example.com or call the Department of Ageing and Disability Services at 292-7802.