The Nigerian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD) has called on the Federal Government, media agencies, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and others to include Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in their planning processes.
Mr. Haruna Muhammad, Vice President of NNAD, made the call at a news conference to celebrate the 2021 International Day of Sign Language on Thursday, in Abuja.
The event was organized by NNAD in collaboration with Association of Sign Language Interpreter of Nigeria (ASLIN) and the LionHeart Ability Leaders International Foundation.
The celebration has the theme:“We Sign for Human Rights’’.
Haruna said that the day was to create awareness about the importance of Sign Language, adding that the UN resolution that established the day recognised the importance of preserve sign language as part of linguistics cultural diversity.
“We appeal to the Federal Government to put in place a National Policy on Sign Language and to officially recognise it as one of the national languages in Nigeria.
“Also the media, especially television stations should provide sign language services and full captions with recommendations of NNAD and ASLIN. In addition, we appreciate the availability of refreshable Braille display so that the blind people can be carried along.
“NCDC and other government agencies should please consider and treat deaf and deaf-blind people in the health fields and interpreters as frontline workers.
“We also appeal to Head of Civil Service of the Federation to grant waiver to National Commission for Persons with Disability (NCPWD) to provide employment for PWDs,’’ Mohammed said.
He further said that all public institutions like schools, healthcare facilities, media, among others should employ Sign Language Interpreters as stipulated in the Disability Act of 2018.
Mohammed appealed to the Federal Executive Council to provide additional budget to NCPWD in planning and development to meet the needs of PWDs in the country.
“Also, Federal Government should please initiate the process of certifying and licensing interpreters as well as develop training framework for the training and retraining of Sign Language interpreters,” he said.
Also, Mr Timothy Tinat, National President of ASLIN, said there was an ongoing collaborative effort with stakeholders including NCPWD to provide sign language interpreters in all hospitals to facilitate easy access to treatment.
In his remarks, Mr Lawrence Idemudin, Member Board of Trustees of NNAD ,said “Sign Language is the right of the Deaf’’.
Idemudin called on the media to help publicise their plights, adding that Deaf are not dumb, “we have language.
“We want the government to recognise the sign language as an official language of the Deaf. Remember in the SGDs, it says, leave no one behind.
“There is also a need to have a Registered Institute for the Deaf where sign language interpreters can be certified,’’ he said.
The News Agency Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event attracted stakeholders from the NCPWD, associations and groups related to deaf and disability.