The deaf minority is still marginalized in society, according to the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), because sign language is not widely understood in Nigeria.
In order to ensure the promotion of sign language in Nigeria and for the commission to take appropriate action to promote and recognize sign language as a lingua franca in Nigeria in order to reduce the gap between the deaf community and the larger society, the CCD called the Federal Ministry of Information in collaboration with the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities.
Sign language is the primary means of communication between the deaf community and other members of their culture. It is a tool for social engagement for deaf people, but access to the language is extremely difficult, if not impossible.
This information was made public on Friday in a news release by Anyaele David, executive director of the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), in honor of the 2022 International Day of Sign Language, which has as its subject “Sign Language Unite Us.”
According to CCD, the community is worried that deaf people's access to sign language in hospitals, schools, governmental organizations, and other public centers is extremely limited, if not impossible.
According to David, millions of Nigerians have some degree of hearing impairment, and over 80% of the world's deaf population lives in developing nations. Although sign language is the primary means by which the deaf community communicates with the outside world, there is a very low level of sign language awareness in Nigeria.
“I am pleased that public hospitals and the government must ensure that people with disabilities are given special considerations, including the provision of special communication during situations of risk, emergencies (such as Covid-19), and other natural causes, as required by sections 24 and 25 of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018. But the true obstacle to overcome for the Deaf community in Nigeria to feel united is implementation, he said.
However, the CCD urged governments to offer incentives to promote and boost student enrollment in sign language courses at our higher educational institutions.
According to him, this is done “to ensure that sign language interpreters are available in every site in Nigeria to serve the growing population of deaf people; even as the necessity for capacity building on sign language usage in our public institutions has become vital.”
Even before the campaign gets underway at the end of this month, INEC and political parties must guarantee the availability of sign language interpreters throughout the upcoming general elections.
“No one should be left behind due to a hearing impairment, as such with access to Sign Language to the Deaf community, will not only unite us as a people, but would go along way towards promoting an inclusive society free from discrimination on the grounds of disability, and hearing impairment in particular,” he said in his conclusion.