By Dayyabu Tanimu Azare, Bauchi state Nigeria.
Due to the non or partial existence of inclusion in some communities in Nigeria, it has prompted me to write this article to discuss about the ways we can make our communities more inclusive for People living with Disabilities (PWDs).
Before I mentions these ways it is only pertinent that I clarify the concept of inclusion first.
The word INCLUSION means “something that does not leave any part or group out of it”. Example of inclusion is a society living with it’s people with disabilities without any form of discriminations and prejudices. Unfortunately people living with disabilities in our country, Nigeria, are left behind unattended to as a result either their cases were unheard or ignored by the society in which they live.
They are often considered unimportant on the perception that they have nothing to offer for the development of their society because of their conditions.
As is the case today, their plights are underreported and many of them are known to be intelligent but they remain sidelined because of the ailment that shortchanged their life and made them disabled.
People living with disabilities have the power to drive more inclusion for everyone from the discriminatory manners to effecting listening to the disabilities communities.
Here are seven (7) ways that can make our Nigerians communities more Inclusive for persons with disabilities in Nigeria.
1. PROMOTE SOCIAL INCLUSION IN SCHOOLS
Our overall cultural consciousness on how we interact with disabilities needs to change and the change must begin from early childhood education. We need to celebrate our peers for their differences, if this is taught at a very young age, less discrimination and more social inclusion will occur. Having children with and without disabilities learning together will help more persons appreciate the talent and gift they bring with them. As a society we have the responsibility to promote inclusion of our differences.
2. INTEGRATE DISABILITIES HISTORY IN SCHOOLS CURRICULUM
How can a person with disability acknowledge and identify with his/her history if it is not widely taught?
How can the society be embraced if their civic background is never been taught?
Throughout general education, I learned indepth about the Voting Rights Act when I was in Junior Secondary School but when I was in the college I began to learn about Disabilities Rights and that was in an intermediate class.
Even more disabilities studies is still emerging as a discipline for degree courses as many schools do not offer it. Disabilities history need to be integrated within our school systems for the communities to fully acknowledge.
3. INCREASE DISABILITIES REPRESENTATIONS IN POLITICAL SETTING
Can you think of how many politicians and government officials local or state to national level who lives with a disability? If you look hard enough you will realize that there is a discrimination with those who work in political offices.
However, the big question is if we are encouraging younger generation with disabilities to participate in political setting.
Has all the State Governments appointed Special Assistant (S.A) on Disabilities Matters? How many local to national political campaigns incorporate the disabilities voices?
Indeed people living with disabilities are facing lot of challenges in participating in political setting and government. The Special Assistants on Disabilities Matters we are advocating that the government appoints would not only serve as the liaison officer between the disabilities communities and the government but will also serve as an informat to the government on any disabled-related matter because according to general perception, people without disabilities and their organization/NGOs have been using the disabled as a tool for enriching themselves.
4. REALIZE THAT PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES TOO ARE HUMAN BEING
It is interesting how we can see a person in one dimension and forget that he/she is a human being interacting with multiple angels.
When we see a person outside their element, we tend to forget that he/she’s live is a culmination of different sides and not just how we see them in an insulated environment.
Sometimes, people may forget that a person with one form of disability or the other is first and foremost a human being with desires, talents, skills, heartaches and looks just like everyone else. At the basis of every person are the similarities we all share for being human as well as people with disabilities.
5. EMPLOY MORE DISABILITIES ACTORS IN MAINSTREAM MEDIA
We need more actors with disabilities playing the actual character roles reserved for people with disabilities. An abled-bodied actor doesn’t have to play the role of a person with disability when an actor living with disabilities can easily be hired. I understand some directors believe that hiring abled-bodied actors playing a character with a disability is better than a person living with disabilities themselves under those circumstances? And even at that, our media need to come to terms with accepting disabilities as a human conditions instead of a few with imperfections.
6. VIEW DISABILITIES COMMUNITIES AS A VALUABLE CONSUMERS
It is still progressive to see the disabilities communities as a targeted audience and consumers. We are the biggest morality population in the world and yet the most under represented. When it comes to marketing products, we are the last to be thought of.
While part of this stems from the fact that there is a great deal of diversity communities those consumers segments (and their families) still have significant purchasing power, we are slowly seeing models with disabilities incorporated in fashion and marketing commercials. But this needs to become the norms and not seen as a future-forward thinking.
7. EMPLOY PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, THEY ARE AMBITIOUS TO WORK
According to Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) “fewer than 1 in 5 disabled adults are employed”. The disabilities communities is still being discriminated against at work. They are not offered a job they are qualified for or denied their final interviews based on their disabilities. But when it come down to that, the employers need to see a person with disability as an asset and not a potential liability.
HOW DO YOU THINK THE DISABILITIES RIGHT BILL GOT SIGNED INTO LAW?
Countless people including people with disabilities crewed up public step and roared their voices until the one in power heard them.
Empower yourself and others by realizing that your voice can make a change for the generation to come. We need to become the voice and criticize and challenge anyone who is trying to discriminate against us. If you don’t raise your voice, nothing will happen and no change will come.
Let us therefore join hand together in raising our voices so we can see a fully inclusive society and celebrate each other for who we truly are. Talented and Incredible human beings.