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Groups laud FG’s directive for sign language interpretation on TV stations, call for full implementation

TQM report,

The Albino Foundation in collaboration with Nigerian National Association of the Deaf(NNAD) and Association of Sign Language Interpreters of Nigeria (ASLIN) have called for the implementation of Honourable Minister of Information and Culture’s directive for every television station to make provision of sign language interpretation during major newscasts.

They held a press conference in Abuja on Thursday as a follow up to the earlier directive by Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed during National Dialogue on Disability Inclusion organized by Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in partnership with The Albino Foundation.

Dr. Jake Epelle, the CEO, The Albino Foundation in his speech appreciated the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture for his pronouncement on sign language interpretation in every television station.

Speaking further, he said that it is a clarion call for all television stations to reach out to NNAD and ASLIN and engage sign language interpreters. He urged Organizations of Persons with Disabilities(OPDs) to channel some projects towards engaging sign language interpreters in order to assist these television stations so that they would not blame it on finance and fail to engage sign language interpreters for the benefits of the deaf community.

He reaffirmed the support of TAF to NNAD and ASLIN to ensure that this initiative is actualized.

While appreciating NTA on their collaboration with ASLIN which has made it possible for sign language interpretation in NTA 7pm News. He asked what about 9pm news and other flagship news like AIT 8pm news and Channels 8pm news, they all should see ways that they can engage ASLIN and stop denying millions of deaf persons the opportunity of knowing what happens around them.

The National President, NNAD, Dr. Chidi Olujie in his speech said that United Nations (UN) describes Sign Language as full-fledged natural languages, structurally distinct from the spoken languages and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) recognizes and promotes the use of Sign Language. The Convention clarifies that they are equal status to spoken languages and facilitate the learning of Sign Language and promote the linguistic identity of Deaf people.

He expressed gratitude to Minister of information for his directive to all media outlets in implementing access to information to Deaf persons through Sign Language.

Speaking further, he expressed the need to ensure full implementation and that is what necessitated this advocacy machine.

“we appreciate organizations that have shown advocacy interest in Sign Language on TV stations as part of their activities, such as The Albino Foundation (TAF), Disability Rights Fund (DRF), the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), the Association of Sign Language Interpreters(ASLIN), among others.

He specially appreciated Disability Rights Fund for supporting these current advocacy process to ensure that the Minister’s pronouncement is actualized.

He stated that Deaf Community in Nigeria need Sign Language Interpretations and captions on both government and private television stations and government functions/events in order to properly include Deaf persons.

He appreciated the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) for their efforts so far, but urged them to extend the Interpreting screen to cover all their programmes and not only the NTA News @7pm.

“We have observed with dismay, the non-inclusion of the Deaf Association and Association of Sign Language Interpreters of Nigeria in the processes of hiring sign language interpreters, which has brought some unacceptable signs and caused misinformation and incomplete information during news” he added.

He advised that it should be avoided because Deaf persons are the owner of the Language and there need to get them fully involved in the processes. It is about their language and others cannot decide who interprets for them “Nothing for us without us fully involved”.

He enjoined TV stations to implement section 29 of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act 2018 which mandates organizations to reserve 5% employment quota for Persons with disabilities in employment of Sign Language Interpreters and as well as Deaf Persons for the good of deaf community.

“NTA has hired Deaf Interpreters in the past, it need to be re-visited and extend to all public and private television stations in Nigeria because it will have huge impacts in the lives of the over 9millions Deaf persons in Nigeria” he concluded.

Timothy Tinat, the National President of ASLIN in his speech, appreciated Jake Epelle for his contribution towards promoting the rights of persons with disabilities and now extending it to deaf community is highly commendable.

He expressed concern on the Minister of information’s pronouncement because most of the agencies saddled with responsibility do not abide by the directives thereby making it difficult for implementation to happen and secondly, it also affecting the rewarding package for sign language interpreters. He cited the experience of the 5 sign language interpreters who volunteered to interpret at the COVID-19 President taskforce Press briefings, the Minister’s open door policy made it possible for the sign language interpreters to have access to the Minister and suggest it and he quickly gave directives for sign interpretation to be adopted but nothing was provided by other agencies to reward the services of the sign language interpreters and it was in few occasions that they got transport stipends, they have been going to provide the services self-funded.

He proffered that in order for this directive to be implemented, the direct beneficiaries of the directive should pay advocacy visit to the Minister, one to appreciate his effort and also to remind him to add power to the pronouncement by writing formally to Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to take leadership in ensuring that all TV stations adhere to the directive. NBC should be visited also because sign language interpretation is in NBC code but implementation has been the problem and graciously, there is a law backing the provision of sign language interpretation by media outfits which is the same law that establish National Commission for Persons with Disabilities (NCPWD). So, an advocacy visits to NCPWD to activate the section that support the process and possibly get NCPWD to form synergy with NBC to enforce compliance.

He stated that another step would be to visit different media organizations to enlighten them about the law and the need for them to comply and when they fail to comply, the deaf community can enforce their right by taking up litigation to set examples with some media organizations.

He pointed out the need for media organizations to reach out to deaf association and ASLIN when they want to engage sign language interpreters because the deaf community should recommend those they find worthy for the job and ASLIN should also ascertain the competence of the sign language interpreters to avoid engaging quack or fake sign language interpreters.

TQM learnt that the group next move is to pay advocacy visit to the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

 

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