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Falling short of equal opportunities for persons with disabilities in Trinidad and Tobago: evidence from Equal Opportunity Commission case files

Bephyer Parey (The University of the West Indies St. Augustine Campus, Saint Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago)
Elisabeth Kutscher (The George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)
Hannah Enightoola (The University of the West Indies St. Augustine Campus, Saint Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 7 December 2022

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of the study is to examine if the existing legislative framework in Trinidad and Tobago supports equal opportunities and the achievement of fundamental human rights for persons with disabilities seeking to access education, employment, accommodations and goods and services.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected from 105 complaints filed with Trinidad and Tobago's Equal Opportunity Commission from 2010 to 2021 regarding disability discrimination. The steps of constant comparison were used to analyse characteristics of each case, complainants' desired outcomes and the actual outcomes of the cases (i.e. withdrawn, closed, forwarded to conciliation or the Equal Opportunity Tribunal).

Findings

Across all cases, persons with disabilities desired access to unavailable services, opportunities for employment or an apology for emotional distress. Cases that were withdrawn reflected missed opportunities to address systemic issues, closed cases reflected a bounded process for redress, and cases advancing to conciliation or the Tribunal required documentation or support.

Originality/value

This study provides insights into how the current policy and its implementation miss opportunities to address discrimination at organisational and systemic levels. Specifically, cases revealed dominant/subordinate dynamics in society and a lack of transparency throughout the system. Authors provide recommendations for policy and systemic change, including addressing gaps in national legislation and adopting strong equality of opportunity and equality of well-being approaches.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This project was possible through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) of Trinidad and Tobago and the University of the West Indies. The complaints lodged with EOC are confidential, and access to them for research purposes was possible via the MOU. The MOU was operationalised within the SALISES Disability Studies Research Cluster chaired by Dr. Bephyer Parey. All authors are members of the cluster.

Ethical approval: Ethical approval for the research was granted by the Campus Ethics Research Committee of the University of West Indies, St. Augustine Campus. Ethical reference number: CREC-SA.1168/09/2021

Funding: There was no funding for this research.

Citation

Parey, B., Kutscher, E. and Enightoola, H. (2022), "Falling short of equal opportunities for persons with disabilities in Trinidad and Tobago: evidence from Equal Opportunity Commission case files", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/EDI-06-2022-0146

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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