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October 8, 2004

Deaf Persons Raise Alarm Over Future

From:, Africa - Oct 8, 2004

This Day (Lagos)
October 8, 2004

Fabian Madu And Ibrahim Yahaya

The deaf under the aegis of Lagos State Association of the Deaf (LSAD) recently lamented the total negligence and discrimination against them in every facets of their lives, particularly as many see them as objects of ridicule or derision in the society.

The Chairman of the Association, Mr Daramola Kayode, said the Nigerian society has a lot of misconceptions about the deaf and deafness, which he said, were baseless and discernible.

The deaf, he said, were naturally good looking, talented, gifted, strong, intelligent and hardworking, adding that Nigeria can harness their (deaf) talents, energy and intelligence for national development as was the case in the developed nations, arguing that "the greatness of a nation is measured by the standard of living of its disabled citizens."

According to him: "No nation can hope to develop fully without taking care of its disabled citizens. The deaf suffer neglect and discrimination in the family, educationally, socially, in sports, in religion, employment and virtually everywhere."

On the forthcoming programme of the association to mark the Deaf Awareness Week 2004, with the theme : "The Rights of the Deaf in Nigerian Constitution: A Cry for Justice," Daramola said the deaf need justice, enlightenment, liberation and equal rights and opportunities as enshrined in the Beijing Declaration of the United Nations on the disabled in 1996.

The programme, he stated, was geared towards enhancing a better understanding of the public about the deaf population, their concern and needs, pointing out that it will also encourage deaf persons to understand more about themselves and their special world.

He also said the week was an important annual event, which was intended to break barriers in communal, and gainful employment for the deaf, access to information, avenues to be heard, and barrier that stifled all avenues to meaningful interaction betw-een the deaf and the hearing world.

He said they were poised during the week to enlighten the general public on how to break the communication barrier between the deaf and hearing world, stating that the hearing could easily adapt to the soundless mode of communication of the deaf while the reverse was not the case with the deaf.

When the public develops a better understanding with the deaf, and the deaf gain better self-esteem, misconceptions and prejudice will be eliminated saying, there would be a better working relationship between the deaf and the hearing world.

The association appealed to the government to enact a law to make it mandatory for every company to employ at least 10 or more disabled citizens in the society to help the situation of the deaf .

"At least, government should make a law that every company should employ at least 10 or more persons that are disabled", he said.

Buttressing the discrimination the deaf get in the society, Mr Bello Bala, Executive Director, Deaf Rehabilitation Foundation, narrated the ugly and unjust treatment he got lthree weeks back when he went to the premises of DHL, Ikeja branch, at about 4.30 a.m to submit his drop-box application forms for onward delivery to the United Kingdom High Commission.

The DHL staff, he said, subverted the list of those of them that were waiting to submit their application forms. In the process of reporting the illegality to the General Manager of DHL, Mr Theodore Halim, when the General manager discovered that he (Halim) was deaf, he (GM) did not hesitate to drop N50 note and ordered his security to rush him out of the premises.

He added that the warmly welcome they received when they visited a foreigner, who happens to be the General Manager of Unitrust Insurance, located at Ajose-Adeogun street, Victoria Island, showed the level of understanding of the disabled in the developed countries .

According to him, when people see a deaf citizen on the street with a billboard, hanging on his or her neck, proclaiming in all innocence: "I am deaf, please help me", he said the deaf person was not seeking for the penny you give thim, but wants to be re-integrated into the society and provided with a means of sustainable livelihood.

Halim, therefore, appealed to the government and members of the public to give a helping hand so that their planned programme could be fully actualised between October 21 and 29, 2004, when it will be ran.

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