The Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB) in Lagos State has expressed worries over how children with visual disabilities are being left behind due to the non-availability of a primary school for the blind in Lagos State.
As persons with visual disabilities in Nigeria join their counterparts all over the world to commemorate the 2021 International White Cane and Safety Day which holds every October 15th, the group expressed concern that the only school which caters to the educational need of visually challenged children in Lagos is privately-owned and has become grossly inadequate to admit the growing number of blind children who desire primary education already.
Chairman of NAB Lagos State, Barrister Lukman Salami, said: “There is a government-owned primary school for the deaf in the state already, so it’s curious that visually impaired children don’t have a dedicated primary school that can meet their special needs.”
“Persons With Disabilities in Lagos will appreciate the governor more if the rights to free education is activated, the blind has a functional special primary school to attend, and vocational training meets the specific needs of different disability clusters.”
Speaking to the theme of this year’s commemoration: “Accessibility for all, safety, productivity and resilience”, Public Relation Officer of the group, Gbenga Ogundare, expressed concerns that despite timelines given by the Lagos State Government to institutions and organisations to make their services and infrastructure disability-inclusive, Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) are still finding it difficult to access services in an inclusive way, especially in the health and education sectors.
“For instance, Lagos State has accessible pedestrian bridges indeed, but these facilities are inhabited by miscreants, destitute and hawkers who make the bridges an unsafe place for PWDs and other users.
“Again, where there are defined walkways, more often than not, some of the slabs are already gorged with slits or outright removed, thereby making the walkway a death trap for the blind. And where this is not the case, hawkers and artisans who display their wares on these paths would still make it impossible for the blind to navigate safely. All of these combined together smack of structural violence against the visually impaired,” Ogundare explained.
The association further alleged that the Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA) was lax in its responsibility to effectively activate and implement the Lagos State Special Peoples Law (LSSPL) to the advantage of persons with disabilities in the state.
Apart from an urgent need to constitute a board for LASODA to help provide strategic direction for the agency, NAB Lagos also argued that government needs to critically review the activities of LASODA, especially on how it interfaces with other MDAs in order to make their programmes and policies disability-inclusive.