The Carrington Youth Fellowship Initiatives (CYIF) has trained no fewer than 1, 000 persons in sign language to bridge the gap between the deaf and the hearing community.
The Representative of the group, Mr Seunfunmi Ogunbure, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.
NAN reports that the fellowship, which is being sponsored by the U.S. Consulate in Lagos, began its advocacy for the deaf in March 2023.
The group organised an interagency dialogue with the Deaf community in Lagos on March 17 to kick-start the project with the theme: “Silent Voices: Bridging the Gap between the Hearing and Deaf Communities in Lagos’’.
It also implemented an eight weeks basic sign language education programme for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in the fields of health, education, governance, youth, women, and persons with disabilities.
“The training was hybrid to accommodate the large interest in learning the skill.
“More than 1, 000 participants registered to learn the skill and over 60 per cent of the registrants are women,’’ Ogunbure said.
He noted that the advocacy had raised awareness on the importance of sign language and created inclusiveness for the deaf in our communities.
According to him, `Silent Voices’ is to raise awareness about sign language among CSOs working in the areas of health, education, governance, youth, women, and persons with disabilities.
“Additionally, the project aims to advocate for the accessibility and inclusiveness of the deaf community in the activities and initiatives of CSOs.
“Also to engender increased awareness of the needs and rights of the deaf and hard of hearing communities in Lagos.
“About 20 per cent of the world’s population has some sort of hearing impairment. That makes about one in five persons in the world.
“Nigeria also has a large population of deaf persons and we do not see enough advocacy or conversation around this issue.
“There has been no actual policy to enable the inclusion of people with hearing impairments.
“That is why CYIF is embarking on several projects as an association to bridge the gap between the deaf and the society they find themselves,’’ Ogunbure told NAN.
According to him, “if a deaf person goes to a bank and needs a service, how can bank officials communicate with him, if they do not have a service for communicating with the deaf?
“If they go to the hospitals, hostels, schools or anywhere how are they addressed and supported? We are all out to bridge the gap between the deaf and the hearing community.
“To pursue this goal, CYIF has trained more than 1, 000 Nigerians in free sign language education in different hybrid learning sessions,” he said.
In addition, Ogunbure appealed to the government to create policies that would engender inclusiveness for the deaf in the society.
“One way the government can help bridge this gap is to create a policy that will serve as a legal framework for social inclusion of the deaf.
“They should also mandate private organisations and schools to make sign language skill acquisition mandatory. Sign language should be learnt by all,” he added.