A Young Deaf rights advocate and Secretary to the World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section (WFDYS), Douglas Izuchukwu, 22, has sent out a clarion call for total rejuvenation of service delivery by the nation’s aviation industry to better accommodate needs of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
The youthful prodigy was among top panelists invited by the Center for Ability Rehabilitation and Empowerment (CARES) to share their thoughts on the issue of lingering inequality in aviation service delivery in the country.
In a statement posted on his facebok page, Douglas says: “It was a privilege to speak among the panelists at an Airlines Stakeholders Forum which addressed the gaps in service delivery to Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in the aviation sector.
The event which took place at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Friday, August 25, 2022, was a project of the Center for Ability Rehabilitation and Empowerment (CARE) with support from ‘The Voice Nigeria’ and Oxfam”.
Douglas, in his statement, highlighted core issues touched on during the penal discussion.
He said: “to recap what I said while speaking for the deaf community, I mentioned the usefulness of having Electronic Aviation Boards in all our airports to display basic information on core happenings in the airport. For example, flight take off time, etc. This will not only benefit Deaf people. It can also benefit hearing people who might have misheard the information”.
“I mentioned, too, the need for attitudinal change of airlines staff – especially their approach towards PWDs. For example, in the process of getting a boarding card, some of these staff find it hard to believe that someone is deaf because the person can speak. As invisible as deafness is, I stressed that being deaf doesn’t equate to being unable to speak”
“I emphasised the need for Nigerian Sign Language Interpreters at the airport and onboard. Deaf passengers often miss out when life-saving information is being announced on the aircraft. Having the services of sign language interpreters in place would go a long way to bridging the communication gap”.
The WFDYS Secretary also used the occasion to sensitize the aviation representatives and general public against the unjustified using of unqualified signers as interpreters. He advised that only trained interpreters could be legitimately used.
His words, “We need trained interpreters for the job not someone who says “I know sign language”. I made the airline representatives understand the subtle difference between signers and interpreters. To avoid hiring a wrong person for the job, they should make inquiries into competencies of interpreters from the Nigerian deaf community”
At the end of the panel, organizers of the program, Center for Ability Rehabilitation and Empowerment unveiled a scissors elevator for easy boarding of flight by wheelchair users as part of its Accessible Aviation Initiatives.
Meanwhile, Douglas, in the post, expressed gratitude for the privilege to be among the Panelists at the event.