CCD wants compulsory use of sign language in public institutions

Umahi legacy


By Diana Omueza

Center for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), has called for compulsory use of sign language in public institutions in Nigeria, to give the deaf community a sense of belonging.

Mr David Anyaele, Executive Director, CCD said this in a statement on Friday in Abuja in commemoration of the International Sign Language Day.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the International Sign Language Day is marked every Sept. 23 by the Deaf Community Globally and the 2022 theme is “Sign Language Unite Us”.

“Recognising that over 80 per cent of deaf persons in the world are living in developing countries, with millions of Nigerians having one level of hearing impairment or the other.

“We must acknowledge that sign language is the major channel for accessing the world by the deaf community, yet its awareness among Nigerians in Nigeria is very low.

“We must also acknowledge that the major form of communication between the deaf community and members of their society is through sign language, because it is their only tool for social interaction.

“But sadly this language is yet to gain access for deaf persons especially in public hospitals, schools, government institutions and other public centres,” he said.

“There is therefore a need for the introduction and usage of this vital communication tool for the benefit of the deaf in public institutions to breach the gap in communication and ensure that no one is left behind as a result of hearing impairment”.

Anyaele said that sections 24 and 25 of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018, required public hospitals and the government to ensure that Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) were given special considerations in public.

He said the law also provided for special communication during situations of risk and  emergencies such as pandemics like the COVID-19 and other natural disasters.

He said that the use of sign language among other provisions for PWDs were yet to be implemented especially in public institutions.

Anyaele urged the deaf community to engage relevant stakeholders to ask critical questions on the extent to which deaf persons were included in governance and socio-economic activities in the society.

He also urged them to examine the availability and engagement of sign language interpreters in the country

that could support the teaming Nigerians with hearing impairment.

According to him, the international sign language day is an opportunity to reflect the extent the Nigerian society accommodates those who do not speak or hear and the use of sign language as a means of communication.

He called on the Ministry of Information to collaborate with the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWDs) to ensure awareness on creation of sign language in the country.

Anyaele also urged the commission to take appropriate steps to ensure that sign language was recognised as a lingua franca in the country.

This he said, would reduce the gap in communication between the deaf community and the larger society, curb exclusion, isolation and stigmatisation as well as reduce poverty.(NAN)