The Resident Electoral Commissioner for Ogun State, Mr. Olaniyi Ijalaye Esq. has assured that Sign Language interpreters will be available at Senatorial Districts during the 2023 general elections.
Ijalaye gave the assurance when State Executives of Association of Sign Language Interpreters in Nigeria, ASLIN, Ogun state chapter paid him a courtesy visit in his office to discuss on Inclusive electoral processes ahead of the general elections.
Mr Ijalaye reiterated the commission’s commitments to improved services for Persons with Disabilities in the State.
He noted that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has made arrangement to protect Persons with Disabilities, the aged and pregnant women from violence on election day, assuring that they will be allowed to cast their votes immediately without having to join the queue at the polling units.
The REC urged the visiting ASLIN team to provide available data of demographics of the Deaf and Blind to enable ready provision of adequate voting materials as applicable.
Earlier, the State ASLIN Chairman, Mr. Oluwaseyi Ogunbayo, while appreciating the electoral commission’s efforts so far at inclusivity, highlights some challenging areas that needed to be improved upon.
He urged the commission to employ Sign language interpreters at Senatorial districts and Local Government level during the election process. This, according to him will allow them bridge communication gap for the Deaf. Ogunbayo also tasked the media to provide full coverage of sign language interpretations alongside returning officers during counting and announcement of results.
Also speaking, Mr. Abayomi Salako, an executive of the Joint National Association of Persons with Disability (JONAPWD) and representative of the Association’s Deaf cluster implored the commission to engage more in voter’s education for PWDs.
He charged INEC to train them on how to vote – giving instance of the Nigeria Youth Parliament’s (NYP) voter education training for all Persons with Disability.
Also, Elder Adeleye Babatunde Adelu, former chairman of Ogun State Association of the Deaf (OGSAD) represented Rasheed Salami, the incumbent chairperson, said that consideration should be given to PWDs during election to save them from possible violence that may endanger their lives.
He also emphasized the need for the commission to give sign language interpreters full coverage during counting of results at the collation centre for benefit of deaf audiences at home. Salami explained that lack of full coverage will leave these persons uninformed and they may thus have to wait until next day to catch up with the latest.
ASLIN’s Public Relation Officer, Mr. Sosanya Oluwaseun also enjoined the commission to make provision for sign language interpreters in the remaining voter education programs before the election.
The visiting team included Mrs Victoria Titilayo Ogunnowo and Mr John Alex Ifekayode – both sign language interpreters.