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The rights of the deaf should be protected

28 August 2014, 07:39 Obaro

The international rights of persons with disabilities are grounded in a broad framework based on the United Nations Charter, the universal declaration of Human Rights, International convention on human rights instruments to which this country is signatory.

Nigeria ratified the United Nations convention and optional protocol signatures and ratification of human rights for all on 24th October, 2010 after the convention on the rights of person with disabilities and optional protocol were formally opened for signatures at the United Nations headquarters in New York City on 30th March, 2007.

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According to the World Federation of the Deaf, the above convention also strengthened the linguistic and cultural viewpoints of deaf people all over the world. Thus recognizes sign language and the linguistic human rights of deaf people. The convention specifically states that government are to recognize sign language as an official language in the constitution, ensure professional interpreter services and guarantee education to deaf people in their sign language in addition to recognizing and supporting their cultural and linguistic identity.

The deaf in Nigeria have suffered untold rejection, relegation and abuses of various form. Contrary to what obtains elsewhere in the world and the specifications of the United Nations Convention on the rights of people with disabilities treaty to which Nigeria is signatory, the deaf have virtually been reduced to the status of a second class citizen in this country. This should not be allowed to continue in view of the enormous advantages inherent in integrating people in this category into the society.

The deaf is often jettisoned and neglected when it comes to provision of social welfare, education, employment opportunities and right to information. The present situation whereby the deaf are always grouped alongside people with structural disabilities should change.

As a matter of fact the deaf should also be integrated into the conventional public school system. Deaf education and sign language should be part of the national basic education system as this will allow every other normal child to learn sign language, This is the only way integration of the deaf can be enhanced. A deaf person should be able to communicate with people around him or her.

As a matter of urgency, the national assembly and the on-going national conference should carry the deaf along in its proceedings and plenary by employing a sign language professional who will interpret legislative proceedings and should always be captured by cameras of TV stations and channels.

The deaf has the right to know what goes on at the federal executive council, judicial proceedings etc. To this end, the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) as a national TV station should make dissemination of information to deaf Nigerians a priority. News and major TV program like the presidential media chats, documentaries, personal interviews etc should always be interpreted in sign language.

In terms of employment, special quota should be set aside for the deaf, so as to give this category of Nigerians a chance to contribute to the economic well being of their fatherland. This healthy, agile and intelligent men and women should be given the opportunity to channel their productivity to nation building, the rights of the deaf should be protected. 


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