Dr Floyd Morris is an advocate for disability rights, an academic who has published research on people with disabilities, a politician who has sponsored path-breaking legislation, and a champion for the rights of the disabled regionally. He is a graduate of the University of the West Indies Mona (UWI), where he attained his PhD in Government (2017). He is currently a Lecturer, a Political Communication Specialist, a Disability Advocate, Author, and Motivational Speaker.
Dr. Floyd Morris
Morris is also the first to accomplish many things in his home country where disability politics and rights are concerned. He is prominent not for the fact that he himself is a highly accomplished visually impaired person, but because what he has accomplished, especially for the rights of the disabled, would be exemplary for anyone.
He served as the Chairman for the Jamaica Society for the Blind (JSB) from 2000 to 2001. Between 2002 and 2006, he led the negotiations for Jamaica at the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and eventually signed and ratified the Convention in 2007, enabling Jamaica to be the first country in the world to do so.
His political career began when he was appointed a Senator by then Prime Minister PJ Patterson in 1998 (becoming its first visually impaired member) and afterwards appointed Minister of State in 2001. From 2001 to 2007, he served as a Minister of State in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. In the period he worked with the Ministry, he anchored the implementation of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education, led Jamaica’s negotiation on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, assisted in the development of the National Health Fund and in the development of the National Insurance health benefit (NI Gold). He drafted legislation to protect persons with disabilities and established the Margaret Moodie Scholarship Fund for persons with disabilities.
In 2004 he initiated The Kingston Accord – a compilation of resolutions from the Caribbean Ministerial Conference on Disability. The Accord was born out of a deep concern that despite the efforts of government bodies and other organizations, persons with disabilities were still encountering discrimination and many obstacles to the enjoyment of their fundamental human rights and freedoms. It sought to reaffirm that every Caribbean citizen has the same human, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and to recognize the importance of the United Nations Standard Rules for the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities as a framework for national and regional policies and programmes.
He returned to the Senate in 2012, and was appointed President of the Senate (2013-2016) during which time he sponsored and debated numerous pieces of legislation aimed at strengthening the rights of persons with disabilities and other human resource matters.
Morris has, to date, signed and approved over 100 pieces of legislation, including the Disabilities Act (2014). These sponsorships and legislative instalments to which he has contributed include:
- the resolution on the expansion of social workers in the Public Sector of Jamaica;
- resolution on employment situation of persons with disabilities in Jamaica;
- the resolution on access and inclusion of children with disabilities in the Jamaican Education System;
- the resolution calling upon the Government to increase benefits to pensioners on the National Insurance Scheme (NIS);
- the resolution calling for a comprehensive review of the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH); and
- the resolution calling for the Parliament to become accessible for persons with physical disabilities.
He was also responsible for introducing Sign Language in the (broadcasts of sessions of) Houses of Parliament in Jamaica. In 2018 he was appointed the CARICOM Special Rapporteur on Disability, and has since continued to do extensive research on persons with disabilities in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.
In November 2020, Morris was elected to the powerful United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This is the Committee created under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) to monitor its implementation in the over 180 countries that have signed and ratified this global treaty. Morris is the first person in the Caribbean to have been elected to this influential committee.
Morris is a member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, and is married to Mrs Shelley-Ann Gayle Morris. He was the host of a two-hour weekly radio broadcast “Seeing from a Different Perspective”, which focused on disability and societal issues. He has written an autobiography called, By Faith, Not By Sight-The Autobiography of Jamaica’s First Blind Senator. In 2020, Morris published his second book: Political Communication Strategies in Post Independence Jamaica 1972-2006.