The Federal Government says it will direct the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to compel public and private television stations to feature sign language interpreters during their major news presentations.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this on Thursday in Abuja at the 2021 Annual Lecture of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN).
The lecture with the topic “The Imperative of Disability Inclusion in National Transformation” was organised by the FRCN in conjunction with the Albino Foundation and the European Union (EU).
The decision by the minister was sequel to a complaint by a participant at the event, Ms Monsurat Abdulwasiu, that the deaf had been excluded by the media.
Abdulwasiu, a former Leader of Abuja Association of the Deaf, Women’s Wing, who spoke through a sign interpreter, said that they suffered exclusion because they just stared at pictures during news hour without knowing what they were saying.
“Only the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) has a sign language interpreter during one of its news hours.
“In the other media platforms, there are no sign language interpreters even in the healthcare sector, no sign language in Nigerian hospitals.
“So, what happens to deaf people when they are reading news and when they are sick and go to hospital.
“Does it means that we are not entitled to information and healthcare? The government needs to look into this,” she said.
Responding, Mohammed said: “I am very touched by the contribution of the young lady who said there is a need for sign interpreters during the network news and other major news belts.
“I am going to ask the NBC to direct all our television stations to ensure that there are sign interpreters in all television stations during their major news hours.
“This will not apply to only the Nigeria Television Authority, whether public or private television stations, they must comply with the directive.
“This directive will work both ways, it means the complaint of exclusion will be tackled and the persons with disability of hearing will also be included in programmes and policies of the government.”