A non governmental organisation that seeks to uphold the rights of people with disabilities (PWDs) known as the Inclusive Friends Association (IFA), has launched a sign Language Interpreters’ Manual to aid in improving participation as well as accessibility for PWDs in electoral processes.

IFA in collaboration with the Nigerian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD) and the Association of Sign Language Interpreters of Nigeria (ASL IN), in Abuja also launched and presented a document on the Cost of Accessible Elections in Nigeria as well as another manual on INEC’s PWD COVID-19 Prevention Protocol to assist Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in conducting inclusive elections for PWDs.

In her remark, the Executive Director of the IFA, Miss Grace Jerry, stated that the manual is designed to bridge the communication gap between the Deaf Citizens and the INEC in the area of Sign language interpretation which she said is partially unavailable due to limited sign language interpreters education programs in the country.

“The purpose of this presentation is to formerly unveil the Sign Language Interpreters’ Manual, Cost of Accessible Elections and the INEC PWD COVID-19 Prevention Protocol. As stakeholders working strategically to improve participation and electoral accessibility for PWDs in Nigeria, these documents are timely interventions to further improve the electoral landscape till no PWD is left behind”.

“The sign Language Interpreters’ Manual was developed to guide INEC and other public and private institutions on the use of Sign language interpreters for effective communication with voters with hearing impairments before, during and after elections”, she said.

While unveiling the documents, National Commissioner, INEC, Mrs. Amina B. Zakari, said going by the ratification of Nigeria to the International Convention on the Rights of PWDs and the African Charter on Democracy Elections and Governance, her Commission is working to facilitate access and inclusion of PWDs in the Electoral Process in Nigeria.

While commending IFA, NNAD and the ASLIN for championing the cause of accessible elections for PWDS in the country, Zakari revealed that so far, INEC have witnessed incremental successes in regards to inclusive elections for PWDs.

Also in line with INEC Policy on conduct of general elections amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Commissioner said;

“these publication will in no small measure, improve the accessibility options open to us as a nation bearing in mind the dwindling resources available to Nigeria and indeed most nations of the world today and the death of data we face, your effort in generating the required data will enable us budget wisely, making inclusivity project more appealing and practicable”, she said.

In his remarks, the National President of NNAD, Dagbo Suleiman Saka who said the community of the deaf are proud of the collaboration between INEC and IFA, in order to achieve inclusiveness in electoral processes, also called on other sectors of the federation to emulate the partnership between INEC and IFA in order for the PWDs to participate adequately in every aspect of our national life.

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