Experts urge FG to stop treating deaf people like second-class citizens

According to a report by the WFD, there are over 70 million deaf people living all over the world, most of whom are in developing countries.

A sign language consultant, Mrs Temilola Ogundeji, on Saturday in Ibadan urged the Bola Tinubu administration to implement the disability law that was signed into law in 2018.

Ogundeji told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), while commenting on the significance of the observance of the 2023 International Day of Sign Language, that deaf people were still being denied many basic rights.

She said the implementation of the law would help in improving the welfare of deaf people in Nigeria.

“Until government implements the law to the details contained in the disability law, deaf people may continue to live as second-class citizens,” the sign language interpreter whose husband is deaf said.

She decried a situation in which deaf parents could not attend Parents Teachers Association (PTA) meetings in their children’s schools due to the non-availability of sign language interpreters.

“It is a regret to know that no form of plan has been put in place for deaf people in nearly all aspects of local and national life.

“Not too long ago, I was forced to follow some deaf parents whose children were being unnecessarily beaten at their children’s schools to complain about their maltreatment.

“Then, I got to know that it was all about the communication gap.

“On another occasion, some deaf parents I know stopped attending the PTA meetings in their children’s schools because they could not understand what was being discussed there.

“These and many more are some of the injustice and unfair treatment deaf people put up with on a daily basis in Nigeria,” Ogundeji said.

She added that the deaf community in Nigeria has been deprived of adequate information.

”This is because most television channels do not have sign language interpretation of their entertainment programmes and other news items.

“Furthermore, many deaf people have little or no access to quality health care as a result of the sign language barrier.

“In many of our hospitals, there is no provision for a sign language interpreter who could help to ask questions when deaf pregnant women and sick deaf men go there,” Ogundeji stated.

She however lauded the efforts of the newly-established Oyo State Agency for Disability for responding to some of the problems.

The interpreter said the agency has started providing interpreters to follow deaf people to events.

While contributing, Prof. Mrs Oyeduni Arulogun, an expert in matters relating to persons with hearing impairment, said the Day was to help recognise the importance of sign language to deaf people.

Arulogun added that sign language was a visual form of communication which everyone should endeavour to learn in order to give persons with hearing impairment a sense of belonging.

”Sign language provides the deaf people with a way to communicate with others.

“There are more than 300 different sign languages across the world, but the international sign language was the one used by deaf people in international meetings and informally when travelling and socialising,” she said.

Arulogun, however, lamented the fact that Nigeria was still lagging behind the rest of the world as far as effective use of the language was concerned.

“The inability of a good number of Nigerians to communicate with persons with hearing impairment has made them be neglected from certain basic rights.

“Government should ensure that sign language becomes a household tool for all everywhere,” she said.

According to a report by the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD), there are over 70 million deaf people living all over the world, most of whom are in developing countries.

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