The National Association of the Deaf (NNAD) has called for the recognition and adoption of sign language as an official language in Nigeria.
The call was made by the President of NNAD, Dr. Chidi Olujie during a workshop in Abuja on Project Implementation for Partners.
The project is part of funding to NNAD by Disability Rights Advocacy Fund (DRAF) which started in September, 2021 aimed at improving policy framework for sign language in Nigeria.
Dr. Olujie recalled that the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed had given a directive to television stations in the country to immediately employ the use of sign language interpreters in all stations to reach the deaf viewers as a welcomed development.
Chidi said “this directive when implemented will open accessibility to persons with disabilities in general and deaf in particular.”
“we are partnering with various stakeholders, including the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, DRAC, Association of Sign Language Interpreters of Nigeria, LionHeart Ability Leaders International Foundation, among others to ensure Nigeria develop and adopt policy to make sign language the second official language”
The guest speaker at the event Bar. Ternence Acka of Acka Associates noted that making sign language a second official Nigerian language will create access for the deaf in health, education, information and every sector of life as sign language is the official language of the deaf.
He said, “sign language should be enforced in all public functions and institutions to build inclusion for PWDs. This require developing a national policy on sign language in partnership with all relevant stakeholders, lobby policy makers and disability community to buy into the policy, and advocate for the implementation. This requires all hands on deck to support and push for the policy to be adopted.”
Doreen Kauma of Uganda Sign Language Association, the project technical assistant in a goodwill message advised all member of the deaf community in Nigeria to support the initiative.
In similar vein Bar Theophilus Odaudu, the Program Officer for Disability Rights Fund explained that the DRF is supporting the project because it believes that the policy of making sign language a national language is doable and it’s in the best interest of the disability community in Nigeria.