By FARRAH JOHNSON
SENATOR Ranard Henfield yesterday hit out at the government’s failure to make parliament more inclusive for people with disabilities.
Mr Henfield noted parliametarians in both the Lower and Upper Houses were not required to “upload their contributions” to a website that is accessible for the disabled.
He also pointed out that both buildings were still inaccessible to people with mobility issues.
“Throughout my contributions you would have heard me referring to the listening public and the persons reading along,” Mr Henfield said.
“I do so because I have to keep reminding parliament that not every Bahamian can hear these parliamentary debates if there is no interpreter for the deaf or HOH in the house or in the senate, and we have been here two years.
“There isn’t even handicapped parking reserved for members of the public that may wish to attend these national debates on matters that will affect their daily lives.”
Mr Henfield asserted that all citizens have the right to be aware of the laws being passed in the country and insisted legislators must “take the initiative” to ensure these processes are more inclusive.
He made the remarks in the Senate as the upper chamber passed legislation to regulate non-profit organisations .
Senator Henfield further advocated for parliament to “engage the public more”.
“Once school opens in September,” he said, “I believe it would be a good move for parliament - especially the senate - to engage the public more via talk shows and interviews in the role of both the house and the senate, the bills passed thus far and the legislative agenda for the remainder of the year.”
Mr Henfield said he is also pushing for the Senate to be opened to youth debates, similar to Youth in Parliament in the House of Assembly.
“I’d wish I would have been successful in convincing the powers that be… I may not have gotten far so far, but as certain as this table needs to be replaced I intend to resume that once we return in October,” he said.
He also spoke to Our Carmichael’s fourth annual back to school initiative, which provides “hundreds of uniforms for students in the Carmichael area. The event will be staged on August 17. Mr Henfield said the organisation usually purchases the uniforms through partnerships with local retailers. However, this year it will seek to empower students by purchasing professional sewing machines to teach 10 students.
He added: “So that come next year rather than spending over $20,000 dollars with the big names like Sandy’s, we will be able to purchase those uniforms for the community from those students.”