By Ogunbayo Oluwaseyi (INN), Ogun
As the world celebrates the International Day of Sign Languages, the Nigerian Deaf Community, in collaboration with Sign Language Interpreters and other stakeholders of sign language and disability groups joined in marking this year’s event which climaxed on Friday 23, September 2022. The theme for this year’s International Day of Sign Language is “Sign Languages Unite Us”.
The collaborating organizations, Ogun State Association of the Deaf (OGSAD), Association of Sign Language Interpreters of Nigeria (ASLIN) Ogun chapter, Hands talking initiative, Save the Deaf and Endangered Languages Initiative (S-DELI), Joint Association of Persons with Disability, Ogun chapter, including friends, colleagues, Deaf teachers and students organized an advocacy campaign with a visit to Ogun State Television, OGTV, in a live programme.
From there they proceeded to Oodua FM, a private radio station in Abeokuta.
The advocacy continued with an inclusion walk in major streets, motor parks and markets in the Abeokuta metropolis. During the walk, people were enlightened on the importance of Sign Language, Deaf Education, inclusion of Deaf in public and private facilities by provision of Sign Language Interpreters, as well as learning Sign Language to facilitate easy communication with Deaf people.
The group, at the end of the walk gathered at Alake Sport Centre Ijeja, Abeokuta where a public lecture, drama presentation, documentation and entertainment of guests took place.
In his welcome address, Dr Olalekan Mohammed, former JONAPWD Ogun State Chairman and head of committee for the 2022 International Day of Sign Language program said Sign Language should be adopted and formalized in Nigeria as an official language of the Deaf.
Mrs Nwandikom Onyinyechi, Director of Operations, S-DELI, mentioned that the objective of the organization was to promote indigenous Nigerian Sign Language and its benefits for the Deaf child.
In her goodwill message the Deputy Director, Ogun Sports Council, Mrs Oluwatoyin Alake said the council has been welcoming Deaf athletes to the State’s sports activities. She went on to urge them to come for trials in the selection process for athletes to represent Ogun State in the upcoming National Sports Festival.
Dr Michael Ebohor, chairman of JONAPWD Ogun, lauded the massive turnout for the celebration despite insufficient funds. He promised to always support the activities of various groups of Persons with Disabilities in Ogun State.
Comrade Ayoade Elegbede, a young, vibrant journalist and human right advocate for Persons with Disability urged the general public to desist from discriminating against Deaf people. He concluded by charging them to unite and accommodate the Deaf by learning Sign Language.