Groups consisting of Community of Disability organizations and led by VDI in an international zoom summit have reaffirmed their commitment to the rights of Deaf People and the promotion of sign language.

The invited participants and panelists consist of personalities from several countries for the high level online meeting held on 26th September to mark the International Day of Sign Language and International Week of the Deaf centred their discussions on their life experiences, how they have coped regardless of their disability, the challenges and recommendations.

The participants spoke on the role Sign Language has played in their life’s journey. They stressed that Sign Language is the linguistic identity of the Deaf as well as their fundamental right.

Deaf people in different parts of the world shared similar challenges however, some have been in the struggle for a longer time and have made significant progress than the others.

It was evident at the summit that being Deaf is not a barrier to achieving your goals or being the best you can be.

The theme for the summit which is this year’s theme for international Deaf awareness week and international day of sign language is ‘Reaffirming Deaf People’s Human Rights’.

The organiser, Voice of Disability Initiative (VDI) in partnership with Save the Endangered Language Initiative (S-DELI), Association of Lawyers with Disabilities in Nigeria (ALDIN), Association of Sign Language Interpreters of Nigeria, FCT Chapter and Joy to the World Special Needs Initiative with great personalities were in attendance among dignitaries across the globe.

The groups’ area of concern include the fact that the level of misinformation in the society is high and it is their responsibility to enlighten the public.

“Sign Language Interpreters do not realise that job is a professional one. Parents of Deaf children do not have a say in their child’s development as they are ‘strangers’ to the Deaf world.”

The group also made some recommendations that if applied will mitigate these challenges.

They advised the Deaf community and other stakeholders to stand up and demand for their rights and that the Deaf should participate in discussions that affect them and not give up in the struggle.

“We need to continue to create awareness on the importance of sign language in the realisation of the human rights of the Deaf.”

“There is need for collaboration among Sign Language interpreters, sign language research groups and the Deaf community to raise the knowledge and study of Sign Language.

“There is need for Sign Language training programmes in schools and among Sign Language interpreters.

We need to continue to back up our actions with prayers asking God to help us succeed,” they added.

In another development, members of Voice of Disability Initiative (VDI) paid an advocacy visit to the office of Women Education, Advocacy and Development Initiative (WEADI) to seek for grounds of partnership and collaborations towards promoting the education and rights of women and girls with disabilities.

The team consist of a five member team made up of VDI Executive Director, Barr Catherine Edeh and four other members of the management team of the organisation.

WEADI told the visiting team to see WEADI as their second home, assuring them of not only their support and succor, but also draw partners that will take up their course. The meeting was also captured via zoom for the participation of WEADI key members who were not on ground at the host office during the visit.

The Executive Director of Voice of Disability Initiative have affirmed the commitment of the already growing organization to the promotion of issues and rights of persons with disabilities and called on stakeholders to give the organization needed support and collaboration to achieve common goal on sustainable inclusion and leaving no one behind.

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