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Groups set to push for the adoption of sign language as second official language in Nigeria

TQM report

The National Association of the Deaf (NNAD) in collaboration with Association of Sign Language Interpreters of Nigeria(ASLIN) and Lionheart Ability Leaders International Foundation (LALIF) has begun a move to ensure the recognition and adoption of sign language as the second official language in Nigeria after English Language.

The event was a one day meeting for the coalition members/implementation partners to understand their roles and responsibilities as well as understanding the implementation strategy.

The project geared towards advocating for the adoption of sign language as an official language in Nigeria is being funded by Disability Rights Fund.

The President of NNAD, Dr. Chidi Olujie speaking at the workshop in Abuja thanked DRF/DRAF for funding NNAD to embark on the advocacy for a policy framework for sign language in Nigeria.

He described as as a welcomed development, the Minister of Information and Culture,  Lai Mohammed’s recent directive to television stations in the country to immediately employ the use of sign language interpreters in all stations to reach the deaf viewers.

He urged for the implementation of the directive saying that it will open access for information to millions of deaf persons in Nigeria.

He informed that NNAD has been partnering with various stakeholders, including the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities, DRAC, The Albino Foundation, Association of Sign Language Interpreters of Nigeria, LionHeart Ability Leaders International Foundation, among others to ensure Nigeria develop and adopt policy to make sign language the second official language.

Bar Theophilus Odaudu, the Program Officer for Disability Rights Fund in his goodwill message commended NNAD for taking up this project and taking the bold step towards advocating for policy framework for sign language in Nigeria.

Speaking further, he explained that the DRF is supporting the project because it believes that that it is important and it is the way to go. It is possible to have a policy of making sign language a national language and DRF has been receiving proposal on having sign language interpreters in critical places, healthcare centres, schools etc but if it is institutionalized, it would have far reaching effect and would take care of other problems already identified because of lack of sign language interpretation.

A resource person at the event Bar. Ternence Acka of Acka Associates while presenting the objectives of the project, noted that making sign language a second official Nigerian language will create access for the deaf in health, education, information and every sector of life as sign language is the official language of the deaf.

He said that the project intention is to have sign language interpretation enforced in all public functions and institutions. It requires developing a national policy on sign language by partnering with all relevant stakeholders, lobby policy makers and other Organizations of Persons With Disabilities.

He went further to say that it may even require create bill on sign language being an official language and approach the lawmakers to have it as an act.

He urged and reminded the coalition of the task ahead and call for commitments and dedication on the part of the implementing partners.

Doreen Kauma of Uganda Sign Language Association, the project technical assistant in her goodwill message commended.NNAD for Initiative and called on all members of the deaf community in Nigeria to support the initiative.

The second resource person, Bar. Iyodo Yusuf enlightened the implementing partners on their roles and responsibilities on the project as well as what is expected of the partners as they implement.

It called for understanding and harmony to avoid quarrel among the implementing partners.

Finally, he advised partners to ensure that they should endeavour carry along every partner and should respect the ascribed roles to avoid conflict.

TQM learnt that the coalition in the next six months will be embarking on aggressive advocacy to relevant Stakeholders in formulate a policy framework on sign language.

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