Governments at all levels and media practitioners have been advised to bring to the front burner issues relating to people with disabilities and find a way of addressing them.
The call was part of a resolution reached at the end of one-day training for media practitioners in Nigeria and other stakeholders, organised by the Journalists for Democratic Rights (JODER) with the support of Ford Foundation West Africa Regional Office.
The training with the theme; ‘Training and Capacity Building for Effective Coverage of Disability issues especially as it affects Children’ was held in Lagos.
In a communiqué issued at the end of the training and signed by Segun Abifarin, David Anyaele, Joseph Chibo and Bukola George, participants noted that the rights of People With Disabilities, (PWDs) is an important human right issue and that democracy and good governance are not complete without equitable focus on the rights of PWDs.
Participants regretted that National, State and Local Government budget conception, planning and implementation take little cognisance of PWDs especially Children with disabilities.
“Education policies and the construction of Public schools, Public buildings including State and National Assemblies across the country are with little or no considerations for PWD,”
They noted further that education of children with disabilities are confined to very few, poorly staffed, poorly equipped and outdated special schools; in the public sphere, with low public awareness on issues of inclusive education, inadequate institutional and human capacities required to implement inclusive education or poor implementation, or non-availability of appropriate legal policy frameworks required for the implementation of inclusive education for children with disabilities.
They listed some causes of disabilities are Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Down Syndrome as a result of genetic disorder, Brain Acquired Injury, spinal cord injury, bipolar disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, (ASD) and psychiatric disorder.
“In Nigeria as in most African countries, some causes of disabilities include communicable diseases, war, terrorism trauma, accidents, congenital and non-infectious diseases’ the participants noted.
Participants noted that the media has done a lot in promoting the rights of PWDs but the efforts are far from being enough and that in some media spaces, PWDs are still considered as less important in the allocation of media space.
The participants noted that of concern are children living with disabilities in Nigeria, 18.5 per cent children are out of school according to UNICEF, while the World Bank projects that people with disabilities constitute about 15% of populations in developing countries.
“Between 80 to 90% of them don’t gain access to basic needs in life, especially primary education. Most common disabilities in Nigeria are visual, hearing, intellectual, communication and physical impairment.