The Lagos State government in south west Nigeria has trained over 100 people from various professional institutions in the state on sign language to help address issues concerning people living with hearing impairment.
The State government says it will continue to design programmes that will incorporate and cater for the physically challenged individuals in the state.
Speaking at the closing session of a 3-day training workshop to mark its yearly sign language programme, the General Manager, Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs LASODA, Dr. Babatunde Awelenje says the need became imperative for it to bridge the gap of communication between those living with hearing defect and the public.
“By organising this programme, we have been able to mainstream people living with hearing impairment and deafness into our society in Lagos State. In so doing, we have been able to key into one of the visions of the United Nation convention on right of People Living With Disability PLWD, of which Nigeria is a signatory. It is also in congruence with the Lagos State Special People’s Law enacted some years ago”.
There are different types of disabilities which include People with Visual impairment, Intellectual and physical disabilities among others, but for People Living with Hearing Impairment PLWHI or deafness, the only challenge they face is verbal communication with the public. And the more the number of people that can communicate with them non-verbally, the better for them,” Awelenje said.
He said that his office had received several complaints from the people with hearing impairment over limited access to public places such as Hospitals, Police Stations among others due to their inability to communicate verbally and that prompted the continuous training workshop on sign language.
Awelenje explained that his Office deliberately chose professional officers such as members of Police Force, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, Medical Practitioners, Public Health Workers among others, who usually have daily contact with the people in question.
LASODA general manager however assured that the state would continue in its drive to expand the scope of the programme to allow for more staff in the coming year.
In a separate interview with one of the participants, a police officer, Elegbede Abiodun commended the gestures by the state government and promised to apply what he has learnt in his line of duty.
Another police officer, Abimbola Williams, who narrated an incident where a girl living with hearing impairment was allegedly defiled by unknown man could not communicate verbally said that such training would assist in that regard.
The highlight of the programme was the reward session where those who proved to have learnt and internalised the sign patterns as taught during the training were rewarded handsomely.
At the end of the day, the first prize winner received N150,000 while the second and third position left home with N100,000 and N50,000 respectively. Another N30,000 each were handed to two runners up.