The Lagos State government has called for collaborations to advance the needs, interests and all-round inclusion of persons with deaf blindness in Lagos.
The call was made at the maiden gathering of Persons with Deaf Blindness in Nigeria organised by Lionheart Ability Leaders International Foundation with support from Disability Rights Fund on Wednesday, 31 January, 2024.
Speaking at the event, General Manager, of Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs, LASODA, Mrs Adenike Oyetunde-Lawal said her presence at the event means the Lagos state government is looking at collaboration, support and recognition of persons with deaf blindness and others with disabilities.
“My office is here for progressive collaborations and I’m very serious about it.”
The General Manager noted that there are eleven clusters of disabilities and the number will keep increasing but the fact is the agency has limit resources. Even though, the government is trying to reach every clusters.
“Our biggest job now is advocacy, showing ourselves to the world so that the world will know us first before we ask for anything because they don’t know us and who we are.
“One of the things I’m working on in the office of disability affairs is data collection. Once we get right data, we can get different needs, that way it’s easier for us to make good plans.”
Adenike said one of her big goals is to make sign language an official language. She hopes that one day sign language will join us together soon.
“We are in the process of amending Lagos state special people’s law, Mr Solomon and team are invited to join us, through your contributions, we will know how to represent your cluster and include your needs in the law.
“We are now in the process of employing sign language interpreters at general hospitals and family healthcare centre, the journey has just started.” She said.
Earlier, the Executive Director of Lionheart Ability Leaders International Foundation (LALIF), Solomon Okelola expressed gratitudes to Disability Rights Fund for their supports and for identifying with individuals with deaf blindness in Nigeria for the past four years.
He said the organisation is in the process of forming a new Association specifically for Persons with Deaf Blindness in Nigeria to have a voice that represents the interest of the group in disability affairs in Lagos State and the nation at large.
He added “this will be the beginning of working together to ensure that individuals with deaf blindness not only in Lagos but all over Nigeria have access to education, health, social life and all basic human needs just like others in the society.”
A parent of Deaf-blind child, Pst. Emmanuel Okibie who spoke to Inclusive News Network praised LALIF for organising such a laudable event, he however called on government to create a law that protects the interest of persons with Deaf-blind and make them number one citizens in the country.
According to him, “If there is a law that protects persons with Deaf-blind, I think people will begin to respect and work with them and that is something government can do.”
Highlight of the event was the donation of food palliatives presented to LALIF for Lagosians with Deaf-blindness alongside other clusters in the state during the yuletide- the first time LASODA wil officially recognize the newly-emerging cluster alongside other in the state.