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International Week of the Deaf: Deaf Teachers Dare Government On “Inclusion”

 

  • Badagry Deaf Awareness Day was held to mark International week of the Deaf earlier this month
  • The chairman called for more initiatives from Lagos state government toward improving the resources and opportunities of deaf learners in Badagry
  • The programme want more inclusive policies from the governmental laws and policies that consider the accommodate the deaf as well
  • However, the group faulted the effectiveness of inclusion and argued that it cannot work for the deaf in the classroom

BWADeaf, in conjunction with Badagry Local government on Wednesday, 6th December, held a program on Badagry Deaf Awareness Day to mark the United Nation International week of the Deaf.

In his welcome Address, the Chairman of BWADeaf, Comrade Kehinde Akewusola thanked His Excellency, Governor Akinwumi Ambode for his disability inclusive programme in Lagos state with recent official presentation of assistive devices, vehicles and empowerment grants to persons living with disabilities.

He continued by reinstating the need for Lagos State Government to employ more sign language interpreters into special schools and cater for the increasing number of Deaf youths in Badagry. He said “there is the need for government to employ more sign language interpreters into special education schools so that more deaf youths can go to schools,

They called for the erection of better-equipped Deaf schools at Badagry, mentioning the inadequacy of tools and equipment.

Kehinde continued by emphasizing the need for the government to provide better access to quality education, healthcare and employment without discrimination for deaf people.

Dr. Tola Odusanya, a Deaf lecturer at Federal College of Education, Special (Oyo) was represented by Mrs. Bernice Oyeleke. She presented paper on “full inclusion with sign language”. In her speech, she said “government should include the deaf in all programs regardless of their disability.” She added, “we have deaf people in high positions” while citing Dr. Tola as an example. She continued that “Deaf people deserve equal opportunity like everyone else”

Mrs. Bernice added that Deaf people should be motivated to participate in politics and other social activities like sports, education and should not be discriminated against.

Mrs. Bernice who is post-lingual Deaf and Masters graduate of university of Ibadan said “one of our human rights is right to communication but more often than not the deaf are excluded and as a result we miss out lot of information because of Deafness, our major limitation”. She continued “government pass information through television, radio and newspapers, I want media houses to provide sign language interpreters for Deaf during the news hours.” She added that sign language should be recognized and widely used across the society within all fields and professions.

Former Federal House of representative member, Hon. Samuel Sejoro advised parents to support their disabled children. He said “with the support of the parents, the children will be successful.” He used Lagos state as an example that the government is making life easier for people with disabilities in Lagos state. He added “just 2 or 3 months ago, the state government directed that 250 persons with disabilities will be employed that is inclusion and with time, the government will do much more in term of vocational training, employment and education for persons with disabilities.”

He continued “as parent, I will encourage the parents that are here today to work hard and train their disabled children.” “The sky is their limit” he quoted. “The man here, Sejoro Ekundayo has a website which you can see. He calls it “Inclusive News Network”. He has news website for disabled people. Very soon, it will grow into Television station built for everybody. This child gives them support for inclusion” he concluded.

Dr. Tola, however, disagrees with “inclusive education” as advocated by government saying “it leads to social exclusion of the Deaf”. He based his reason with his life story. Dr. Tola who is also the founder of Tola foundation added that “in school where all students are deaf, the best students will be deaf, the worse, the troublesome and the gentle students will all be deaf”.

South West Coordinator of Nigeria National Association of the Deaf, Mr. Sule Aderemi backed Dr. Tola, saying “the Deaf don’t need “inclusion” that everyone is talking about”. He added that the disabled people understand themselves and know where the shoe pinches. “we know our problems, we know where it hurts us, we know our needs but the inclusion government is talking about is the inclusion they think we need, not what we know we need” he said.

“until government sit us down, listen to our needs, know our problems and allow us to have a say on the way forward, this inclusion is nothing to us” he said. He continued “a society can never develop if it doesn’t give accesses to her disabled people”

Mr Sule who has been in the teaching profession at Abeokuta for more than 15 years emphasizes that many deaf students travel to other states to acquire education even though there are mainstream schools and inclusive units in Badagry. He argued, “The reason is because there are not enough teachers and interpreters to support their education. How is inclusion possible?”

He concluded by begging important people in Badagry to use their office to help Deaf students in Badagry

More pictures from the program

Even The Deaf Hear Discrimination: Nigerian Deaf Teachers Lament Neglect

 

  • Deaf teachers banded together in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State to discuss a wide range of issues affecting the deaf and their education and upward mobility in the country
  • Issues including assistive technologies, infrastructural decay and poor funding of deaf education; collaboration and capacity building of stakeholders in deaf education in Nigeria were key subject matters
  • It was a hackaton brainstorming session that bought together some of the smartest, most learn deaf teachers and stakeholders

 

Recently, deaf teachers in the country converged on the main hall of the Pastoral Centre of the Catholic Diocese of Abakaliki, Ebonyi State located at Mile 50, along the old Abakaliki-Enugu road.

They had gathered for their annual national conference. This year’s edition, which lasted for three days focused on Assessment of Deaf Education in Nigeria: Missing Link between Theories and Practices.

The conference was to, among others, serve as framework for assessment of deaf education in Nigeria; curriculum adaptation, inclusive education, individualized education programme as well as the law, order, and media application in deaf education in the country.

It was also to x-ray the “assistive technology, infrastructural decay and poor funding of deaf education; collaboration and capacity building of stakeholders in deaf education in Nigeria” in the last one year.

That day, deaf teachers were in Abakaliki chart a new course on the best way to better their lots. They also lined up guest speakers who would speak to them on each of the days.

On the first day, Dr Jonah Eleweke, a lecturer in the Department of World Languages and Literature, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, USA was the keynote speaker. He presented a paper on the theme of the conference. Eleweke has partial hearing impairment and as such, makes great efforts to speak. His lecture was interpreted by a sign language specialist, Mrs. Didiugwu Uzoamaka.

Eleweke while delivering his lecture lamented that some in the society maltreat deaf persons. He was particularly displeased that many deaf children are victims of the maltreatment.

“Children who are deaf have normal brains. The problem is the information to the brain” Eleweke explained. “If a child is hearing, the moment it is born it begins to listen to the parents and the learning begins. That is not possible with children who are born deaf, but they’re not mentally retarded.

“But with proper services, support and education, they can learn and be alright. We have deaf engineers who are real engineers; we have deaf scientists; we have deaf Nigerians who are Deans of Faculties in the universities abroad. It shows that the deaf can do anything if given the opportunity to learn,” said Eleweke.

The keynote speaker explained that the deaf can rule their world and contribute meaningfully to the growth and development of their society if given the necessary support.

“Educating the deaf requires good support from home, parents, brothers and sisters to be able to communicate. But often, parents don’t even know what to do. You cannot blame them.

 

“Parents can learn sign language so that they can communicate to the child; then, allow the child go to school. It is very important that the teachers should have the love to teach deaf children; provide the resources that they need,” he explained.

Citing himself as an example, he narrated that while in secondary school, he had wanted to major in sciences but he was discouraged because he was not provided with the right support by his school and the government.

“For example, I wanted to take sciences in High School. I liked Biology, Physics, Chemistry but my high school had no laboratory. So, it made no sense for me to read the books on these science subjects without their laboratories for practical. This was because WAEC, NECO, and others have practicals for them.

“So, if you don’t go to the laboratory you’re going to fail. With good teachers and resources, they will learn and be successful. Deaf person can be president.

“We need the help of the people. Many people are very ignorant about deafness or people with special needs. They will see them and back off. We have to see them as human beings. We have needs just as others.

In an interview with The Education Report, the National Vice-President of Deaf Teachers’Association of Nigeria (DTAN) (South East), Rev. Uche Promise Nwode, lamented that the government attaches little or no importance to education of the deaf in Nigeria.

“The main challenge we have is that the government is not fully involved in the education of the deaf the way it is supposed to be. For example, the national policy on education is the law guiding education in Nigeria. Section 8 of that law stipulates that the education of the deaf children shall be the responsibility of the three tiers of the government but they don’t do it.

“For example in Ebonyi State where I established a school for them, these children are not on scholarship. Some states have primary and secondary schools for the deaf. They also put them on scholarship. In many states in the north, deaf children receive annual subvention from the local and state governments but this is not the case in Ebonyi State. Let government place all the deaf children on scholarship so that they can have access to education.

“In my own school, the major challenge I face there is how to feed the deaf children. We need food for the children. That would help to keep them in the school. We go to various villages looking for these deaf children and once we see them, we bring them to the school. Lack of food is the major challenge we face,” Nwode lamented.

In her address, the Minister of Women’s Affairs and Social Development, Senator Aisha Alhassan, told the visibly unhappy deaf teachers that the government has plans to better their lots. She disclosed that her ministry is making efforts to liaise with state governments to ensure that the education of people with hearing impairment is given due attention.

The minister represented by a staff of the ministry, Mr Peter Audu, told them that already, the ministry has facilitated the engagement of some deaf people in the Federal Civil Service.

“On employment, the Federal Civil Service Commission through the intervention of the Minister of Women Affairs employed a reasonable number of the deaf people and other people with disability as staff in the federal civil service,” said the minister.

She, however, said that the education of the deaf is important to the federal government. She assured them that her ministry would do everything within its powers to ensure that the welfare of the deaf is handled with the utmost importance it requires.

“Education of the deaf is very important because as you educate the deaf, you equally educate a nation. If they are well educated, they will go places. They will be able to surmount some of their challenges. They face a lot of challenges every day. But we as a ministry have also been trying to create soft landing for them” she said.

Earlier in his address, the National President of the group, Mr. Tope Olaniyi, assured his colleagues that his administration would not leave to chance anything concerning their welfare. He hailed the theme of the conference, noting that “to all intent and purpose”, it was “a right step in the right direction.”

Reporter’s Diary

The official opening of the event was pegged at 10am but at about 9:40am, almost all the members of the group had gathered. Many of them had arrived a day before to be sure they kept to time.

When our correspondent got to the venue at about 9:50am, he literally went dumb, mopping as he meandered through the participants. At first, many of the participants interacted through gesticulations. Many hands were up and waving.

Being his first time reporting such event, and not knowing how to announce his arrival, he stood for about five minutes waiting for a ‘rescuer.’ It was not long after that it occurred to him that the invitation letter addressed to The Sun by the group had read “SMS only.” Just as he was pulling out his mobile phone to send text message to the number on the invitation letter, there was a gentle tap on his shoulder.

“With a smile on his face, one of them gesticulated at me to find out if I needed help. I gesticulated back at him with confusion boldly written on my face even when I did not know what my gesticulation meant.”

At about 10:05am the event started; and all through, Mrs. Uzoamaka, the sign language interpreter was on standby to interpret every presentation made. For roughly five hours which the event lasted, Didiugwu stood beside the podium doing her job.

After the lecture, she stood in the gap between our correspondent and his respondents during an interview session. She related the questions to the interviewees and verbally interpreted the answers while they spoke using signs.

Later, in a brief informal interaction, Didiugwu, who is a staff at Hope Fountain School for the Deaf in Enugu State, told our correspondent that she studied Sign Language in the University of Jos, Plateau State.

She said that deaf teachers usually got angry when someone who does not have hearing impairment comes in their midst. Didiugwu’s explanation was coming on the heels of a ‘charge’ at our reporter by one of the deaf teachers who found out that he does not belong to their group.

Remarkable at the event, however, was the love and unity with which they carried out their activities. They observably did everything by and for themselves.

Nigerian Catholic Deaf Community Host Persons with Disabilities at A Thanksgiving Service

 

  • Nigerian Catholic Deaf Community hosted Persons with disabilities at its thanksgiving service
  • The gathering took place in Anambra on 17 December 2017
  • Chuk Betrand Ezewuzie, Senior Special Assistant to Anambra state government, gave an inspiring message laden with heavenly cadence
  • The hosted group congratulated Chaplain, Rev Fr Callistus Agaero for his dedication and devotion to the evangelization of the deaf community

 

Nigerian Catholic Deaf Community Nnewiese has hosted Persons with Disabilities at its 2017 annual harvest and Thanksgiving program on 17 December in Anambra state.

Senior special Assistant to Anambra state government, Chuk Betrand Ezewuzie, at the service, said “We thank God that many churches are waking up to the fact that persons with disabilities do not have automatic access to heaven.”

“We are all sinners like you and therefore need salvation to make heaven. Jesus died for all and is ready to save all who trust in him.”, the state government representative said.

Kudos to the Chaplain, Rev Fr Callistus Agaero for his dedication and devotion to the evangelization of the deaf community.” He added.

Physically Challenged Chorister and Her Fiancé Release Beautiful Pre-Wedding Pictures

 

  • A physically-disabled woman is set to wed her fiancée in a ceremony on the 27th of December, 2017
  • On a wheelchair herself, the maid, Miss Edidiong Edet, a staunch member of the Apostolic Church, is delighted to tie the knots with her fiancé in an open ceremony before the month ends

 

 

A Physically-challenged chorister is set to wed her maid, in a beautiful ceremony set to hold on the 27th of December in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

The Photos were shared on Facebook with the caption;

This is Miss Edidiong Edet who has served God faithfully in the Apostolic church on the wheel chair as a chorister and a witness member from birth.

The resident pastor of the Apostolic Church, Aka district, Pastor Okon said something about the marriage during 3days Area fasting and prayer held at Obio Imo Street last two weeks.

As a person i didn’t believe him but seeing her picture, i praise God on her behalf cos before the end of this month, her name will be charged to Mrs Edidiong.

The beautiful woman had a word of encouragement to others; “I want to use this medium to say thank you Lord for doing what man cannot do and to also encourage you out there that it pays to serve God. She admonished.

“If your blessings haven’t come yet, please, don’t lose hope. Even if you’re helpless, no money, no house and food, please wait on him in prayers. The same God that did it for me would one day meet you at the very point of your need.” She continued.

The pastor of her Church, Pastor Okon, in a remark at the church said, “To the husband-to-be, I commend your courage by loving her and not seeing her deformity. To the family members. I thank you for believing in her. Congratulations and may God bless your home.”

More pictures from their pre-wedding

 

England Women’s Deaf Fustal Squad Secure Their Spot At Next Year’s Euro Finals

 

  • England’s deaf women’s Futsal squad have secured their spot at next year’s European Championship.
  • The Lionesses, all of whom are deaf, have successfully come through the qualifying round earlier last week
  • The Lionesses, by grueling competitions, had to beat Turkey and Norway before drawing against Poland during Euro qualifying in November

 

England’s deaf women’s Futsal squad have secured their spot at next year’s European Championship.

The Lionesses will head to Finland for the finals this December, after successfully coming through the qualifying round earlier this week.

Taking place in Norway, England found their range with impressive 5-2 and 8-1 victories over Turkey and the host nation respectively.

And they were held to a 3-3 draw by Poland in the crucial final game to seal second spot in the group and a shot at the title in 12 months.

A hat-trick from Zara Musker and goals from Emma Brown and debutant Lucy Durham were enough to see off Turkey in the opener before they faced a second game later that day against Norway.

England had to show their character too, as they found themselves a goal down against the hosts in the early stages in front of a fervent home crowd.

But confidence was clearly still high from their early victory as the Lionesses responded in style with a brace apiece for Emma Brown and Rebecca Kemp and a strike from Louise Hogan making it 5-1 at half time.

Second-half goals from Kemp, Hogan and Musker completed the rout to set up a thrilling final game with Poland the following day to decide top-spot.

Two goals for Kemp and a goal for Danielle Evans put the girls in control at 3-1 but Poland weren’t finished and bounced back with two late goals to seal a draw which meant England had to settle for second spot as a result of goal difference.

It was still enough to progress though and the squad will now have over a year to prepare for the Finals, which begin on 4 December 2018 in Tampere, Finland.

The squad: Asnath Losala, Ceara Toal, Danielle Evans, Emma Brown, Jennifer Evans, Louise Hogan, Lucy Durham, Molly Ripley, Nikita Hitchen, Lhathini Pushpalingham, Rebecca Kemp, Zara Musker

The Lionesses beat Turkey and Norway before drawing against Poland during Euro qualifying in November (Pictured below

Deaf Leader Launches Legal Case Over ‘Discriminatory’ Access to Work Cap

 

  • The UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been sued by a deaf executive over discriminatory access to Work Cap- a scheme that manages disability related expenses at work
  • The government agency was taken to the court over discrimination with disability-related expenses
  • David Buxton, the chief executive, like most other British Sign Language users have been affected by the law
  • The Deaf executive is now fighting the government on behalf of the community of sign language users in the UK over the imposition of this cap, including the negative it brings on their resources.

 

A Deaf chief executive has launched a legal case against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over its “discriminatory” cap on the amount of support available to help disabled people with disability-related expenses at work.

David Buxton, chief executive of Action on Disability in London, is one of many British Sign Language-users who have been hit by the imposition of the cap on payments made by the Access to Work (AtW) scheme.

Campaigners have been warning for the last two years that the cap, which limits annual AtW awards to one-and-a-half times the average salary, would hit Deaf users of BSL and disabled people with high support needs the hardest.

But they have also warned that the cap discriminates against those in senior positions, like Buxton.

AtW provides disabled people with funding to pay for some of the extra disability-related expenses they face at work – including travel, personal assistants or the use of BSL interpreters – reducing the costs organisations have to meet when taking on disabled employees.

The cap was introduced for new AtW claimants in 2015 and is due to affect existing claimants from April 2018

Buxton’s legal papers were served on DWP on Tuesday, just days after the government launched its 10-year work, health and disability strategy, which aims to increase the number of disabled people in work by one million by 2027.

There was no suggestion in the strategy that the government would remove the cap.

Buxton, whose case is being funded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “This case is being brought because the government has made the decision to limit my career by denying me the funds to pay for the linguistic access I need to be able to fulfil my job.

“Access to Work is a fantastic grant which allows Deaf and disabled people to remain in employment and doesn’t make the disabled employee a ‘no-no’ on the grounds of cost.

“For me as a Deaf person, and a CEO, this means using professional sign language interpreters at high-level meetings with various authorities, policy-makers, staff and members.

“Putting a cap on the AtW grant makes no economic sense.

“For every £1 I am awarded for AtW, I give back in taxes by virtue of being employed.

“It doesn’t stop there. In being employed, I give work to a number of interpreters, and, at other times, to palantypists, who are all contributing in fulfilling ways and paying taxes too.

“The impact of AtW is far-reaching and extremely positive.  Awarding AtW makes sense, a cap on AtW awards doesn’t.”

Buxton argues that he has been discriminated against under the Equality Act and that DWP breached its public sector equality duty when drawing up the cap policy.

Disability News Service reported seven months ago how Buxton had been told that AtW would only provide him with enough support to pay for interpreters three days every week.

He began his full-time job in London in May, and was immediately hit by the cap.

His solicitor, Anne-Marie Jolly, from Deighton Pierce Glynn, said: “As a result of this case, the government’s decision to cap Access to Work funding will finally be exposed to the scrutiny of the high court.

“Government decision-making around Access to Work has historically been lacking in clarity and transparency.

“In keeping with that history, the decision to cap the scheme was made with no formal consultation or adequate evidence base, despite its profound impact on those affected.

“Mr Buxton’s claim makes the case that the Access to Work cap breaches Deaf and disabled people’s human rights and right to be treated equally.

“The cap perversely impacts on those with the most demanding jobs and highest support needs, the overwhelming majority of whom are Deaf BSL-users, preventing them and their employers or businesses from reaching their fullest potential.”

Research commissioned by Inclusion London, and published in October, found the future of the AtW scheme was in jeopardy because of “bureaucratic incompetence” and a cost-cutting drive to reduce people’s support packages.

Ellen Clifford, campaigns and policy manager for Inclusion London, which is supporting the case through its Disability Justice Project, said: “The cap is already having a serious negative impact on Deaf and disabled people’s employment.

“On the one hand, the government say they want to reduce the disability employment gap and get another million disabled people into work, yet here is a disability employment scheme with a track record of success and it is being cut and changed to a point where it is no longer a viable form of support.

“Deaf and disabled people are frustrated and anxious at the risk of unemployment and benefit dependency, which will come at a much higher cost to the state than the support package they need to remain in work.”

Geraldine O’Halloran, co-founder of the StopChanges2AtW campaign, added: “The idea put forward by the government that employers will pay for the support that Deaf and disabled people need in order to do their jobs on an equal basis with non-disabled people is nonsense.

“However much an employer values you, the majority of employers don’t have the spare money to effectively pay to take on Deaf or disabled staff.

“Yet in the bigger picture it benefits the government to invest in disability employment support, with research showing that the Treasury makes a surplus on investment for every pound invested in Access to Work, and that’s before the wider benefits of savings to the NHS and social care are taken into consideration.”

A DWP spokeswoman said the department could not comment on an ongoing legal case.

Blade Runner, Pistorius, Injured in Prison Fight Over Phone

 

  • Oscar Pistorius had sustained an injury in a fight at a prison
  • The former Paralympic champion and convicted murderer took part in a prison brawl over the use of a public phone
  • The disgraced champion and double amputee was left with a bruise after an squabble with another inmate regarding the use of a public phone at the jail.
  • Mr. Pistorius is currently serving a 13-year jail term for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

 

Former Paralympic champion and convicted murderer Oscar Pistorius has been injured in a prison brawl over the use of a public phone, a South African official said on Tuesday.

The double amputee — who is serving a 13-year jail term for the murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp — was left with a bruise after “an altercation with another inmate over the use of a public phone” on December 6, according to the Department of Correctional Services.

“Oscar Pistorius sustained a bruise following an alleged incident with another inmate over the use of a public phone in the special care unit where both offenders are detained at Attridgeville Correctional Centre,” spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo said.

Pistorius was in November 2016 moved to the prison north of the capital Pretoria, which caters for inmates with physical disabilities.

Last month, the Supreme Court of Appeal more than doubled his original sentence of six years after the state argued that it was unduly lenient.

Nxumalo said an official investigation has been launched into the incident.

Local media reported that fellow prisoners were angered by the Pistorius’s lengthy telephone conversation, leading to a fight.

Pistorius, 31, was originally convicted of culpable homicide over the 2013 killing — the equivalent of manslaughter — but the appeal court upgraded his conviction to murder.

Dáil Passes ‘Historic’ Sign Language Legislation

 

  • The Irish Sign Language for the Deaf Community Bill 2016 has passed all stages in the Dáil.
  • There were cheers and TDs signed to the public gallery in the chamber as it passed.
  • Leas-Ceann Comhairle Pat ‘The Cope’ Gallagher said that it was “an historic bill”.
  • The bill is set to be signed into law within days by Irish President Michael D Higgins.

 

Sign language is used by 50,000 members of the deaf community and thousands of others to communicate with them.

Opening the debate, Minister of State Finian McGrath said he was delighted that it had been possible to achieve a consensus in the Seanad on the bill so it could now be passed by the Dáil.

He said the Government’s approach to amending the bill was to keep and strengthen the three key features that need to be in legislation.

These are to ensure the important recognition by the State of Irish sign language (ISL) and the right of users to use it is retained, to place a duty on public bodies to provide ISL interpretation at no cost to the user when access to statutory entitlements is sought by the person, and to provide a clear statutory right to use ISL in court proceedings.

Mr McGrath said he accepted the argument that sign language users suffer social isolation, which has been made by the deaf community and Senator Mark Daly, who initiated the legislation.

The minister said: “Provision of supports so they can visit their GP and engage in social and cultural activities would be a humane and worthwhile initiative to combat this isolation and improve well-being and mental health.”

Social Democrats TD Roisin Shortall is Irish sign language was “an indigenous language in its own right used by a sizeable minority in the State”.

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail said: “It is a great privilege to be presiding on a historic day like today.”

A law which will give official recognition to Irish Sign language is being debated in the Dáil this evening pic.twitter.com/3eDPZBV6dO

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Senator Daly said the Bill would have a major impact and would end the extreme marginalisation of the deaf community.

Mr Daly said he expected there would be a transition period of a number of years as there were not enough sign language interpreters available in Ireland.

“What we are doing is making sure there is a register of interpreters available,” he added.

He said situations of having “not up-to-scratch interpreters” has happened in Ireland in the past and this bill will make sure there is a list of interpreters who are up to standard.

He said until now many people in the deaf community have been left isolated as they have had no right of access to Government services.

Meanwhile the Government has narrowly lost a vote in the Dáil on a Fianna Fáil bill aimed at tackling the rise of phoney accounts and orchestrated online campaigns on social media.

Deputy James Lawless’ Online Advertising and Social Media (Transparency) Bill 2017 will go to committee stage after it passed by 58 votes to 56. 

The bill also aimed to keep the Government’s new Strategic Communications Unit in check as it has a provision that would prohibit the use of public money for political purposes. 

Ross accuses opposition of ‘filibustering’

The Minister for Transport has accused Opposition TDs of “filibustering” during tonight’s debate about the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill. 

There were angry exchanges as Shane Ross said: “We are putting up here with a filibuster when lives are being lost as a result of this bill not coming through.”

Addressing the Leas Ceann Comhairle, Pat The Cope Gallager, the minister said, “I would ask you specifically not to tolerate the antics that are going on, filibustering a bill which is to save lives and then calling quorums and the leaving the house themselves.”

He accused Mick Wallace of giving a speech which never mentioned the bill being debated. 

Some rural TDs are opposed to Mr Ross’s bill, which will introduce more stringent drink-driving laws.

Under the bill drivers found with a blood alcohol level of between 50mg and 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, will face a mandatory ban.

The debate on the bill has now adjourned and the Dáil will return to it next year.

2019 Election: INEC to Introduce Sign Languages for People Living with Disabilities

 

  • Ahead of 2019 elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will introduce sign languages and communication techniques
  • The daring initiative is expected to accommodate the community of the deaf and hard of hearing who want to take active part in the political and electioneering process
  • This new development is to aid the full participation of People-Living-with-Disabilities (PLWDs) in the forthcoming general elections
  • The commission says introduction of sign language and communication techniques is part of moves to ensure inclusiveness in the elections

 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it will introduce sign languages and communication techniques to aid the full participation of People-Living-with-Disabilities (PLWDs) in the 2019 general elections.

Dr. Adekunle Ogunmola, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman, Partnership and Outreach Committee of the commission, stated this in Lokoja on Friday at a workshop on capacity-building.

The workshop is on “Communication Skills for Desk Officers in Charge of People Living with Disabilities.’’

Ogunmola said that introduction of sign language was part of moves to ensure inclusiveness in electoral processes.

He identified lack of detailed and comprehensive data of PLWDs based on the disabilities and inaccessibility of some public places designated as polling units as some of the challenges.

Another, he said, was inadequate number of trained personnel to interface with disabled persons on electoral issues, assuring that the electoral body was determined to address the issues.

Ogunmola listed introduction of sign language interpretation on INEC programmes like Electoral Half Hour and message at collation centres for election results as part of steps to be taken in addressing the matter.

According to him, INEC is also working towards prevailing on political parties to mainstream people-living-with-disabilities into party decision-making process and leadership.

In addition, he said that the organisation would embark on a recruitment of PLWDs into the INEC and come up with policy framework on electoral plans for them and other special group of stakeholders.

The commissioner expressed determination of INEC to deepen the participation of the persons in the electoral processes, urging participants to come up with suggestions to aid this.

“As a responsive institution, INEC appreciates the importance of inclusive electoral process, thus, its commitment to open up the electoral space for citizens, including people-living-with-disabilities,’’ he said.

Also speaking, another INEC Commissioner, Mrs May Agbamuche, said that the electoral body would introduce Form EC40H to capture information and statistics of PLWDs in readiness for the elections.

Agbamuche also stated that magnifying glasses to aid participation of the visually-impaired, including albinos, would be introduced to aid the inclusion of some PLWDs into all the aspects of the electoral process.

Mrs Dorothy Bello, INEC Deputy Director, Civil Society Liaison, said that the workshop was organised to build the capacity of participants to relate and communicate effectively with PLWDs in an acceptable manner to discharge their duties.

She said that the workshop was coming at a time when preparations were on for the governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun states.

Bello stated that the knowledge and experience to be shared at the workshop would guide the participants to interact effectively with disabled people before and during the elections.

“As desk officers, we need to be well-equipped and trained on how to use better language when communicating with people-living-with-disabilities in order to deepen our democracy,” she said.

Disability Rights: CCD and Other Disability Rights Groups Challenges Federal Lawmakers

 

  • The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities and Others have challenged the National Assembly to pass the Disability Bill
  • The groups have expressed their concerns about the circumstances surrounding the whereabouts of the bill
  • The groups challenge the National Assembly to consider the uniqueness of people with disabilities during design and development of social programs

 

As the world observed the International Day of Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs) on December 3, sequences of activities were organised by the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) and Disability Rights Advocacy Centre (DRAC) during the week in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

CCD in collaboration, with Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), on Tuesday, December 5, held media dialogue on Nigeria’s disability bill before the National Assembly. They, they accused the government of excluding them in the various social intervention programmes of the present administration.

They allege that the N-Power programme and its likes were designed without consideration for people with disabilities, adding that the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also exclude them.

Executive Director of CCD, David Anyaele, who fired the salvo called for right-based approach in the conception and implementation of development programmes.

He lamented that the absence of disability bill had denied over 25 million people with disabilities in Nigeria of some critical aspects of human rights, adding that the bill harmonised by the Senate and House of Representatives Committees since December 6, last year, was nowhere to be found in the National Assembly.

According to him, the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Bill 2015 is “a bill for an Act to ensure full integration of persons with disabilities into the society and to establish a National Commission for Persons with Disabilities and vest with it the responsibilities for the education of the disabled, including their healthcare and the protection of their social, economic and civic rights (SB022).” 

Daily Sun gathered that the bill sponsored by Senator Francis Alimikhena was passed by the Senate on July 13, 2016 while “A Bill for an Act to ensure full integration of Nigerians with disabilities into the society and eliminate all forms of discrimination against them 2016, HB 476,” sponsored by Ochiglegor Idagbo was passed by the House of Representatives on June 9, 2016. 

The Joint Conference Committee for the harmonization of the bill was inaugurated on November 22, last year and was led from the Senate by Senator Obinna Ogba and by Hon. Orkey Jev Emmanuel in the House of Representatives.

 It was further learnt that at the close of the meeting of the Joint Conference Committee, the Senate version was adopted on December 6. 

Surprisingly, nothing was heard again about the bill, prompting people with disabilities to raise the alarm that the bill was missing, especially, in the light of their previous unpalatable experience where ex-presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan failed to assent similar bills passed by the National Assembly. 

Presenting their frustration, Anyaele said: “It is based on this delay, one year after harmonization of this bill without dispatch to the President for assent that compelled us to seek for your intervention to save the lives of more than 25 million Nigerians with disabilities.” 

Also speaking, Programme Coordinator (Economics) of OSIWA, Joseph Amenahon urged policy makers and all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to ensure that people with disabilities were carried along in government’s policies and programmes.

ALDIN Appeals to Nigerian Law School to Provide Sign Language Interpreter for Deaf Student

  • A group of lawyers with disabilities has appealed to the Nigerian Law School to provide a Sign Language Interpreter for a deaf law student at the school
  • Miss Phosphen had, throughout her undergraduate law program at the University of Ibadan, been assigned sign language interpreters from the Department of Special Education
  • With relevant quotations from the Nigerian constitution with regards to freedom of expression, the signed letter from the Association of Lawyers Living with Disabilities (ALDIN) keenly urges the Law School to provide a sign language interpreter for the student
  • Known as manual communication, sign language, in the letter, is said to be enabling- in the way that it helps deaf learners to acquire ideas and information through a professional interpreter

The Association of Lawyers Living with Disability in Nigeria (ALDIN) has appealed to the Nigerian Law School to provide Sign Language Interpreter for Miss Dumi Prosphen, a deaf Student. Miss Prosphen is a bonafide student of our nation’s Law School- Lagos Campus.

In a compellingly written letter addressed to the Deputy Director of the prestigious School School, Lagos, the erudite group keenly appealed to the Nigerian Law School not to neglect its own, Miss Dumi. Miss Dumi, according to reports, did have sign language interpreters throughout her five years as an undergraduate at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan,

Part of the letter read:

We write to most passionately appeal for the provision of a sign language interpreter for the above-named student who had been admitted to the Lagos campus of the Nigerian Law School. This will enable the said student to follow the lectures that are essentially orally delivered.

It is germane to note that several other deaf lawyers had graduated from the Nigerian Law School and were provided with sign language interpreters. Today, they are doing well both in Nigeria and abroad. We were also made to understand that the University of Ibadan, where she studied, provided Miss Prosphen with sign language interpreter throughout her five-year law program at the Faculty of Law.

Sir, it may interest you to know that the practice globally is to make the entire gamut of the affairs of the society, including the educational system, inclusive, or accommodating, of persons with disabilities.  And the Nigerian Law School should not be seen to be laid back on this score.

Our constitution while fostering national integration also provides in section 39(1) as follows:

Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.

Accordingly, sign language is the medium whereby the deaf “receive and impart ideas and information without interference.”

On the whole, if Miss Dumi had defied all the odds, graduating from the University of Ibadan and gaining admission to the Nigerian Law School, paying the requisite school fees, it will only be fair for the Law School to accord her an enabling ground to receive her lectures, given her peculiar circumstance.

We are optimistic that you will use your good offices to grant our application as that will accord with global best practices, our constitution and the interest of justice.

ALDIN as the umbrella body for Lawyers living with disabilities has in recent times through its incumbent President Daniel A. Onwe Esq been taking the welfare of lawyers with disability seriously. He has in recent past approached relevant government agencies with a legitimate appeal for support for lawyers in this category. It is hoped that the passage of the long-awaited bill which provides for the welfare of physically challenged people would bring the needed succour.

The formal letter read.

Its Cinema Time for the Disabled: DRAC Introduces the Movie “In The Shadows” At a Movie Premiere

 

  • In the Shadows is a disability-centered movie.
  • It depicts the violence against women and girls with disabilities
  • In fact, it is about a young woman who experienced sexual and emotional abuse for a decade in the men who look down disabled women

 

Irene Ojiugo Patrick,DRAC Executive Director, has introduced the movie  In The Shadows at the recent movie premiere produced by DRAC Nigeria, and support by Australia Aid

The story, as stated by DRAC, depicts, the insidious nature of Gender Based Violence when combined with the hitherto unrecognized Disability Based Violence.

It is the story of a young woman with a disability who faced sexual abuse for 10 years as a child and physical, emotional and psychological abuse as an adult.

Society perpetuated this abuse with their negative attitude and perceptions about disability, causing her to be vulnerable while living in the shadows…

What can she do? How will it end?

According to DRAC, the next screening of In The Shadows will be out soon.

Senate Committee On Independent National Electoral Commission Meets Physically Challenged Citizens

 

  • The senate committee on INEC meets the organization of Physically Challenged Persons ahead of Election
  • The committee assures the group of its commitments to increase their franchise- a right to vote
  • The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities calls for inclusion of sign language and the need for instructors at polling units on Election Day.
  • An Electoral Reform Act is demanded by CCD to remove obstacles that bar people with disabilities from exercising their civic right
  • The National Assembly has assured the group of its commitment to the course- assuring them of active “consideration”.

 

The chairman of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), Mr. David Anyaele spoke on the involvement of disabled people during electoral process. He also said that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) adverts should include sign language and the need for instructors at polling units.

Mr. David Anyaele added that 60% of disabled people are over the age of 18, so there is need to make provisions for them so that they can vote. He also said that the National Assembly should demand a disability plan from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)so it can be included in the budget. Mr. Anyaele went further to state the need to cover the disability gap.

Mr. David Anyaele pleaded that the Nigerian Senate mandates the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to review the polling units location and other infrastructure facilities so as to ensure access and balance in voting activities.

In the Reactions of the Legislators, Senator Hope Uzodinma noted that Mr. David Anyaele was absent during the public hearing on Electoral Reform Act but he should submit a full documentation of the needs of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD). Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi pointed out that the Committee is committed to reducing the disenfranchised and increase participation of Physically Challenged Individuals in the Electoral process.

Senator Sulaiman Nazif, in closing the interaction assured that the National Assembly is committed to the course and stated that whatever is to be done will be put into consideration. He also encouraged the Citizens with Disability, adding “we would try everything possible to support you”.

DEAF WOMAN LISTS TWO MAJOR ISSUES SHE WILL DISCUSS WITH BUHARI IF SHE MEETS HIM

  • The Secretary General of Abuja Deaf Women Association says she has something to tell the President 
  • She wants the President to appoint a special needs woman that addresses the concerns of women with disabilities
  • She wants the President to set up a commission on the affairs of disabled women in the country
  • She laments what she believes is an utter disregard for the wellbeing of deaf women in the country

The association of Deaf women In Abuja, in observance of IDPD, charges the country’s leaders to advance the interests of the deaf and other disabled women in the country

Bukola Fakunle, the secretary general of the Abuja Association of the Deaf, has expressed her desire to meet with the President because she has a few things to tell him.

Led by Dr. Irene Patrick-Ogbogu, DRAC recently held a conference supported by Christoffel Blinden Mission tagged ”We Are Women Too” to commemorate the International Disability Day 2017

Bukola Fakunle, the secretary general of the Abuja Association of the Deaf, women wing, however caught the eye at the event.

Bukola Fakunle, the secretary general of the Abuja Association of the Deaf, women wing, has listed two suggestions she would give to President Muhammadu Buhari concerning women living with disabilities, if she meets him.

Fakunle, who was one of the panelists at “We Are Women Too” convened to commemorate the International Day of Disability 2017, called on the president to set up a commission solely for the purpose of advancing the interests of people living with disabilities.

Mrs Fakune is one of those at the forefront of advocating for the right of women living with disabilities.

In her words: “If I have the opportunity to talk to the president on matters concerning our deaf women, the first thing I’ll recommend to him is that he should set up a commission and appoint a woman with a disability in charge of the affairs of the disabled.

“The commission should be responsible for taking care of all our affairs – health wise, social wise and anything that has to do with us.

“When we have a woman with disability heading the commission, we are sure that we would be fairly treated. And if the woman messes up, we’ll know how to remove her.

“Another thing I’ll recommend is that when the government wants to do something for us, they should take time to consult us. We don’t want assumptions. We are wearing the shoes; we know where it pinches.

“We should be part of the decision-making process so that there will be nothing about us without us.”

On her part, the executive director of Disability Rights Advocacy Center (DRAC), Irene Patrick-Ogbogu lamented that women living with disabilities are being excluded in the Nigerian society.

Her words: “All our issues are swept under the carpet continuously. Women with disabilities struggle to be seen. We are invisible. In the society, we are treated as gender-less beings.

“A lot of people consider women living with disabilities as incomplete women. These are the factors that contribute to our exclusion in the society.”

Patrick-Ogbogu is one of the leading advocate for Persons With Disabilities in Nigeria. Photo credit: DRAC

She further stated that women with disabilities are not considered in terms of access to healthcare, adding that they are also educationally disadvantaged and not considered for political positions.

“Nobody talks about how a pregnant woman on a wheel chair will be weighed at a hospital, because we don’t have facilities at the hospital for them. We are not consulted when healthcare decisions are being made.

“Educationally, women with disabilities are among those educationally disadvantaged.

“Politically, look around us in this country. How many women with disabilities do you see in any position, whether appointed or elected,” she said.

Cross section of participants at the conference. Photo credit: DRAC

Earlier, the Director General of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Dame Julie Okah-Donli, who delivered a keynote address at the event, stated that prioritizing inclusion of women with disabilities in the society is appropriate “because they are women too and should not be left behind.”

Okah-Donli who was represented by the director, counselling and rehabilitation department of NAPTIP, Mrs Anuforom Eunice, lamented that a department of rehabilitation which oversees issues affecting people with disabilities in the federal ministry of women affairs and social development, is largely underfunded and has no legal standing.

“The department has no legal instruments to pursue its obligations and it is also grossly underfunded making it impossible to provide adequate rehabilitation services, including accessible funds, education and other social services needed by persons with disabilities,” she said.

Our Idea woman of the week, Theresia Degener.

 

  • Theresa Degener is a renowned personality in the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • She is a professor of law and disability studies at the Protestant University of Applied Sciences in Bochum, Germany.
  • She is instrumental to conception, negotiation, and adoption of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

 

Theresia Degener is the chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and a professor of law and disability studies at the Protestant University of Applied Sciences in Bochum, Germany.

During more than two decades of activism, research, and writing, Degener has advised the German government and parliament, regional and international disabled persons organizations, as well as European Union and UN bodies on disability rights. Degener’s 2001 study on the idea of a convention on disability rights (co-authored with former advisory board member Gerard Quinn), which was submitted to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is widely seen as a milestone that led to the conception, negotiation, and adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.