By Seriki Adinoyi
A Professor of Special Needs Education (visual impairment) of the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Jos, Professor Emeka Desmond Ozoji, has identified social exclusion barriers as the major obstacles preventing persons with disabilities from accessing the inclusive society.
Ozoji made this observation when he delivered the 101th inaugural lecture of the university with the theme: “Fostering Social Actions to Birth an Inclusive Society in Nigeria.”
He reassured that birthing an inclusive society that would profit persons with disability would be achievable “if the society understands that its social exclusion barriers are the major obstacles preventing persons with disabilities from accessing the inclusive society,” adding that such barriers included negative attitude, ‘ableism,’ ‘disablism,’ hostile physical environment, amongst others.
He said: “An inclusive society is a society that overrides differences of race, gender, class, generation and geography and ensures inclusion, equality of opportunity as well as capacity of all members of the society to determine an agreed set of social institutions that govern social interaction.”
Ozoji said that Nigerians who are concerned about persons with disabilities should come together to form a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) whose vision would be to birth an authentic inclusive society in Nigeria.
He said that the lecture was rooted in three inter-related academic disciplines; disability studies, psychology studies and human/civil right studies, adding that it was about the challenges and struggles faced by people with disabilities in their quest to access inclusive society and the disability rights.
In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor of University of Jos, Professor Tanko Ishaya, said that though the inaugural lecture may not change the society, it is envisioned to strongly challenge the society in the way it sees, thinks, poses, behaves, and takes decisions about people with disabilities, and to shift focus away from their problems and to focus on how to disable reactions and attitudes of the society towards them.