A true believer in education Palmer attended the Salvation Army school for the blind where he attained the requisite skills to prepare him for the many challenges of the sighted world. Despite This preparation Derrick had to draw on his inner strength to tackle and break down some of the societal barriers encountered at the University of the West Indies. In toppling some of these barriers palmer ascertained diplomas in family life education, social psychology, business and industrial psychology in the nineteen seventies. He went on to complete a BSC degree in Social Work in 1984. Additionally Palmer is the proud recipient of a scholarship from the University of Haifa in Israel where he successfully completed a Diploma in community development in 1981.
Being Married for over 30 years to a sighted wife, and the proud father of three grown children Derrick is a respectable family man who makes time available to facilitate the advocacy of persons with disabilities. His aggressive yet effective style enabled Derrick to partner with several other individuals to form the Progressive Blind Association in 1975. During his tenor as chairman of the PBA palmer presided over the development of a 10-point document which formed the basis for the first disability policy adopted by the Jamaican government. Palmer was one of the revolutionists who led the struggle for the blind and visually impaired community in the seventies. His revolutionary moves along with other others resulted in the Jamaica Society for the Blind acquiring its own property and the removal of administrators and directors whose views on blindness were archaic and crippling. the first blind chairman in 1978 of the board of the Jamaica Society for the Blind, Derrick took on the tedious task of shepherding the JSB through the unchanted jungle of society to establish the JSB as the flagship organization empowering and meeting the needs of the blind and visually impaired community. At that time palmer epitomized “nothing for us without us.” Avissionary by nature He wrote, produced and hosted a weekly 15-minute radio programme called Awareness on JBC and later RJR ,which ran for some twenty years. It dealt with blindness and the issues confronting blind people, there achievements and gave them a powerful voice.
Derrick not only promoted advocacy for the blind and visually impaired, but also gave of himself to other groups of individuals with other types of disabilities. This he did through his work as a social worker with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security at the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities in the late 1970s. Additionally He served as one of the founding fathers of the Combined Disabilities association an umbrella organization serving persons with disabilities in 1980. Derrick also proved to be instrumental in lobbying for income tax concessions forpersons with disabilities. A former vice-president of the Caribbean Council for the Blind Derrick breeched borders of Jamaica to serve the Caribbean peoples with blind and visually issues. Palmer also served as regional director for Disabled People's International, North America and the Caribbean region thus empowering an entire region with his revolutionary work and spirit.
Derrick Palmer a true revolutionary, a strong leader, an advocate. A selfless individual worthy to be inducted in the JSB Hall of Visionaries.
His involvement did not stop there. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in Social Work, Certificates in Social Psychology and Family Life Education, Arvel Grant was suitably placed to assume responsibility for the day-to-day administration of Jamaica Society for the Blind as it’s Executive Director and also Assistant Executive of the North Western Desk of the Caribbean Council for the Blind. During his sojourn at the JSB, Arvel Grant was know or his strong advocacy work geared towards improvement of the lives of persons who ae blind or visually impaired as well as persons with other disabilities. Many persons can attest to the passionate zeal and earnestness with which he encouraged persons who are blind or visually impaired to strive for excellence in every sphere of life.
As Regional Training Officer with the Caribbean Council for the blind, he spearheaded the development and implementation of regional courses in: primary and secondary eye care services; Diploma in the education of children with visual impairments-; Regional training course of Rehabilitation Officers working with persons who are blind, the establishment of the Braille and Large Print Unit at the Ministry of Education Special Education Unit, and a computer lab for training of teachers of children who are blind or visually impaired.
As Chief Executive Director of CCB, his pioneering spirit did not falter, evidenced b the development and implementation of programmes in Eye Healthy/Blindness prevention, education for children who are blind or visually impaired and inclusive services for persons who are blind or visually impaired.
Arvel Logan Grant, we salute you this day and consider you to b worthy to be inducted in our hall of visionaries.
Whereas, while lecturing at the UWI, he was attentive to the needs of his visually impaired and blind students and engaged them on ways to improve their learning experience and was available to support students who faced barriers to their education; and
Whereas, he sought to introduce measures in his department to facilitate students; including the introduction of tactile technologies to make diagrams accessible and customized tutorials for visually impaired and blind students studying quantitative subjects; and
Whereas, he lobbied the UWI leadership to engage blind and visually impaired students as well as other students with disabilities more effectively and proposed that a Committee for Students with Disabilities be formed to include representatives from UWI students with disabilities and the Jamaican disabilities community; and
Whereas, he served from 1992-1994 as the Committee’s first Chair, and as a Member until 1997; and later acted as Advisor to the Committee, the Office for Special Student Services and the Students with Disabilities’ Alumni; and
Whereas, despite the absence of any initial budget, the Committee under his leadership undertook fundraising activities allowing it to establish an office and introduced what were then cutting edge technologies to assist visually impaired and blind students including a Kurzweil reading machine which converted print into speech, Braille and Speech note takers, and the Jaws Screen Reader software; and
Whereas, he visited Canada and Britain to review the latest developments in disabilities education, and fostered a people to people approach through which many volunteers have contributed to the education of students with disabilities, while testifying to what they have learnt in the process; and
Whereas, he piloted policies for the Campus, which included the concept that the percentage of persons with disabilities in the relevant age cohort for the general population should be reflected in the student population and, to support this, he and fellow committee member, Winnifred Madge Hall, conducted research on the share of persons with disabilities in Jamaica’s population, (published in the journal Disability and Society):
The Jamaica Society for the Blind do hereby induct Mark Figueroa into its Hall of Visionaries as some small measure of gratitude and recompense for the many years of service he has offered to visually impaired, blind and other students with disabilities at the University of the West Indies.
Presented this 16th day of June, 2019
And whereas, Mr. Campbell was instrumental, in the 1980s, in the creation development and staging of a meditation, which took place for many years, to raise funds for the activities of the JSB with top tier performing artistes such as Fab 5, the Unique Vision, Junior Demus, Gem Myers, Jimmy Sinclair, Oliver Samuels and others and with shows staged at the Regal Theatre and at the Little Theatre.
And whereas, Mr. Campbell used his good offices to ensure that for many years Fab 5 played a Christmas concert at the Salvation Army’s School for the Blind, leading eventually to the creation of the Unique Vision band (from the school band “Merry Mice”) as a brother band to Fab 5 and giving the opportunity for many blind and visually impaired persons to become true professional musicians in Jamaica when few options were available.
And whereas, Mr. Campbell was instrumental in the inclusion of blind and visually impaired members in Fab 5 band, most notably, Sidney Thorpe and Donovan Palmer.
And whereas, Mr. Campbell ensured that many blind and visually impaired musicians would have permanent housing at Fab 5’s Springvale Avenue headquarters.
And whereas, Mr. Campbell helped develop a culture to develop a culture of welcoming and inclusion in the Jamaican music fraternity for blind and visually impaired musicians and singers, including the recommendation of blind and visually impaired performers to other musical entities as employees
And whereas, Mr. Campbell has made Fab 5’s Springvale Avenue base a welcoming environment for the blind and visually impaired community, offering on numerous occasions meeting and rehearsal facilities.
And whereas, Mr. Campbell has on numerous occasions, offered his own personal assistance and the assistance of the groups and singers and manages to the blind and visually impaired community on both a personal and professional level.
And whereas, under his direction, Fab 5 and the Unique Vision have performed for the JSB on many occasions to the benefit of the society.
The Jamaica Society of the Blind does hereby induct Mr. Franklyn Horace Campbell, OD into its Hall of visionaries as some small measure of gratitude and recompense for the many years of sterling and selfless work he has offered to the community of blind and visually impaired persons and the JSB.
Presented this 18thday of June 2017
Between the late 1970s and the 1990s, KC was a very pro-active member of the St. Andrew Lions Club and a dedicated member and volunteer at the Jamaica Society for the Blind (JSB). He was soft-spoken, a shrewd tactician and a gifted strategist, who had the interests of blind people at heart. A dedicated family man, KC would use his private motor vehicle in transporting blind persons to meetings.
For many, the association with him proved invaluable, since they learnt important lessons on deportment, decorum and dress. KC emphasized appropriate dress as paramount, in helping members of the public to see beyond blindness. For almost 20 years he placed his accounting expertise, business acumen and extraordinary tactical and strategic talents at the full disposal of the organization. As a result, he was elected Treasurer of the Society.
During his tenure he also led efforts to relocate JSB’s operations from a crime-ridden area of East Kingston in the 1970s. His effort produced monumental improvements in access to training and other services for people who are blind or visually impaired in Jamaica and the Caribbean. For years, the Jamaica Society for the Blind (then located at 8 Central Avenue, in East Kingston) was concerned about the levels of crime and violence in the area and how it was negatively impacting employees, members and clientele. It became very unsafe to commute on the streets and a few JSB members and clients were robbed, sometimes at gun or knife point.
KC rallied members of the St. Andrew Lions Club and spread word throughout the business community of the dangerous conditions faced by JSB’s beneficiaries. His aim was to urgently acquire new and safe premises, where people who are blind or visually impaired could receive services in an easily accessible space.
Like a tiger on the prowl, KC systematically canvassed his associates, banks and allied financial institutions in search of buildings for sale. One evening he arrived at a regular JSB meeting, his usual quiet self, but unusually jovial. Towards the end of the meeting, he unassumingly announced that, if the society could find J$70,000, it could have new premises at 111 1/2 Old Hope Road.
At the time, persons who were blind and attended JSB meetings were employed but earning less than J$100 per month. Most could not fathom how the organization could get to J$70,000. After some deliberations, KC said (in his usual cool calm way) “if the Society has nothing, it has assets and human talents”. Leading by example, KC and some blind members offered their life insurance policy as security for a J$20,000 mortgage. This coupled with the selling price for the old premises and about J$8,000 from the Society’s bank accounts, achieved the J$70,000 to purchase premises at 111/2 Old Hope Road in Liguanea.
KC Williams was not done yet. He “twisted the tails” of his fellow members of the St. Andrew Lions Club to retrofit and repair the dilapidated building at Old Hope Road. His effort transformed the premises to a modern office and eye clinic located on prime real estate uptown. Blind people who wanted to acquire the services of the JSB now could do so in a safer environment. Furthermore, the new office was located along popular bus routes making it more accessible.
KC Williams was very comfortable with blindness, he exemplified the Helen Keller mandate that, Lions Club’s members must be knights of the blind. The JSB’s current premise is shining as a beacon and serving as the focal point for every Jamaican citizen who is blind, or visually impaired. KC’s boundless and resolute dedication to the cause of blind people has and will reap contributions for many years to come.
KC Williams, a quiet man with the hunting prowess of tigers and the heart of lions.
Jamaica Society For The Blind
111 1/2 Old Hope Road, Kingston 6 Jamaica
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