The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) has cried out that the deaf community is still left out of society due to the low level of understanding of sign language in Nigeria.
The CCD called the Federal Ministry of Information in collaboration with the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities to ensure awareness creation on sign language in Nigeria and for the commission to take appropriate steps to promote and recognize sign language as a lingua franca in Nigeria to reduce the gap between the deaf community and the larger society.
The major form of communication between the deaf community and members of their society is through sign language, which is a tool for social interaction for deaf persons but access to the language is very limited, if not impossible.
This was revealed by Executive Director Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), Anyaele David, on Friday in a press release to celebrate the 2022 International Day of Sign Language themed “Sign Language Unite Us”.
The community, according to CCD, is concerned that access to sign language for deaf persons in hospitals, schools, government institutions, and other public centres is very limited, if not impossible.
David said over 80 percent of deaf persons in the world are living in developing countries, with millions of Nigerians having one level of hearing impairment or the other; acknowledging that sign language is the major channel for accessing the world by the deaf community, yet its awareness among Nigerians is very low.
“Pleased that sections 24 and 25 of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018 requires public hospitals and the government to ensure that persons with disabilities are given special considerations, including provision of special communication during situations of risk, emergencies (such as Covid-19) and other natural causes. Yet implementation is the real mountain to be removed for Deaf community to feel united in Nigeria,” he said.
The CCD, however, admonished governments to provide incentives to encourage and increase student enrollment for sign language studies in our higher institutions.
This, in his words, “is to ensure availability of sign language interpreters in every location in Nigeria to support the increasing number of deaf persons; even as the need for capacity building on sign language usage in our public institutions has become imperative.”
“INEC and political parties must ensure the availability of sign language interpreters during the forthcoming General elections even as campaign kicks off ending of this month.
“No one should be left behind by reason of hearing impairment, as such with access to Sign Language to Deaf community, will not only unite us a people, but would go along way towards promoting inclusive society free from discrimination on the grounds of disability, and hearing impairment in particular,” he concluded.