PWDs Celebrity of the Week 003:
Olufemi S.A. Bayode’s story like other stories is inspiring. He lost his sight before he could write his external examinations. For him, the situation was not enough to stop him from achieving his dreams, he had decided to take life by the horns after losing his sight to becoming the Chief Executive Officer of Special Learning Needs Consultant and renowned visually impaired computer expert and assistive technology enthusiast for persons with disabilities. In this interview with Inclusive News Network, INN, he did not hide his passion to see government at every levels move beyond paperwork and implement policies, programmes and laws to ensure inclusion for People with Disability. Excerpts:
Can we meet you?
My name is Olufemi S.A. Bayode. I am from Ondo State in Nigeria. I was born into the family of five in Akure.
What disability cluster do you belong to?
I’m an individual with visual impairment.
How did you become visually impaired?
I lost my sight when I was in SS3 as a result of negligence and wrong diagnosis.
What do you mean by wrong diagnosis?
I was diagnosed of cataracts whereas I had nystagmus.
What followed after the occurrence of the vision loss?
My parents took me to different places for help. These include medical facilities, traditional houses, Pastors and Muslim clerics.
Hmmm, so did you ever get any rehabilitation service? If yes, tell us about it.
I was enrolled at Ondo State School for Visually Impaired Children, Owo for rehabilitation. My Father had known about the school prior to my becoming blind. He got to know about the school, through a television program called Baoku. Himself and some of his colleagues visited the school to make donation towards the welfare of the school prior to my becoming visually impaired. My rehabilitation entailed Braille literacy and type writing.
What followed after you completed your rehabilitation at the school?
After my rehabilitation, I went back to complete my secondary education because I have not written the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) when I became blind. Then I proceeded to the University of Jos for my tertiary education.
What are the accommodation services you make use of?
White cane for mobility and computer and assistive technology software for workplace and other sites related activities.
Since the visual impairment occurred later in life, kindly share with us what it was like adapting to the new situation.
What helped my adaptation is the love from my family. They supported me all the way through my rehabilitation. As a matter of fact, I spent only two months at home. The summary of it all is that I had every needed encouragement both from my family friend and people I come across. Nevertheless, these people consider me a source of encouragement to them as well.
Share with us your career profile
I am the owner and Chief Executive Officer of Special Learning Needs Consultant, a resource centre for persons with disabilities in Nigeria. I am passionate about making positive impact in the lives of people around me. I learnt how to operate the computer system without sight from a blind tutor in Bauchi state, Nigeria in 2007. Today, I am a renowned computer expert and assistive technology enthusiast for persons with disabilities.
In February, 2016, I started a campaign of developing new set of computer experts by equipping them with various skills in computer literacy through the DANACE Computer Project. About two hundred persons with visual impairment benefitted from this free training across the globe. This has increased their computer proficiency and productivity at school and work-place. This is to help develop needed capacity for personal adjustment, job placement and inclusion of persons with disabilities through technology.
I am a resourceful TRCN licensed special teacher, award winning IPMP certified project manager and registered member of Nigeria Computer Society with thirteen years of experience on human capacity development and ICT training for persons with disabilities. I have a masters degree in Special Education. I am a member of the Nigeria Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET), International Project Management Professionals (IPMP) and Community of the Exceptional Needs Poets.
What other contributions have you made to humanity?
I volunteered in the area of advocacy for students with disabilities in University of Jos, 2011. I engaged in the training of blind people on how to use computer in Bayelsa state, Nigeria in 2013. I organized educational workshop for special needs students in Lagos, Nigeria in 2018. I trained Nigerian blind journalists on data analysis in 2020, just to mention few. All these are turning point in the lives of the beneficiaries.
Wow, so are you currently employed?
Yes, I am a civil servant under Federal Ministry of Education.
Tell us about your love life
I’m engaged to a lovely woman. She’s tender hearted and industrious. However, I met her after a few heartbreaks from ladies who saw my impairment and not me and my productivity.
Wow, when is the bell likely to ring?
October 2020. Let me also add that she’s sighted.
It’s obvious from your response, congratulation. What is your parting shot for people with disabilities, the society and the government?
People with disabilities work on themselves and believe that limitation exists nowhere except in the mind of a man.
People in the society should know that what has not reached you has not passed you. We need to treat everyone with love and remember that we all need each other at one point in time to survive.
Government at every level should move beyond paper work. They need to begin implementation of policies, programs and laws. This is the only thing that can ensure total inclusion.