The Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB) in Lagos State has expressed worries about the exclusion of children with visual impairment in accessing education.
The group expressed its worries as it commemorates the 2021 International White Cane and Safety Day,
Barrister Lukman Salami, Chairman of NAB Lagos State, while speaking at Alimosho Local Government during a road walk organized to raise public awareness about visual impairment and the White Cane as an important symbol of independence and safety for the Blind, tasked the Lagos government on the need to make education accessible for all.
Barr Salami who noted that the Lagos State Special Peoples Law made provision for free education for Children with Disabilities (CWSs), urged the Lagos State Government to ensure this is activated to ensure CWDs have unfettered access to education.
Speaking to the theme of this year’s commemoration, entitled: “Accessibility for all, safety, productivity and resilience”., Gbenga Ogundare, Public Relations Officer of the group, expressed concerns that despite timelines given by the Lagos State Government to institutions and organizations 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 outrightly 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 mentioned that the Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs (LASODA) for its inability to effectively activate and implement the Lagos State Special Peoples Law (LSSPL) to the advantage of PWDs 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.
“The programmes implemented by LASODA so far are a sheer mockery of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s genuine intension for the emancipation of persons with disabilities and the true spirit of the Lagos State Special Peoples Law,’ Salami lamented.
“Other than sheer tokenism and lack of technical capacity about how to proffer solutions to the many challenges PWDs contend with currently, one would wonder what usefulness a 3-day sign language training will serve a beginner, for instance. One is left to imagine what inclusive benefits are there to derive in an interactive quiz among pupils with disabilities, or even a disability expo among disabled persons Etc. It’s just sheer financial recklessness really,’ Salami argued.
Every 15th of October is set aside globally to commemorate the importance of the White Cane as a crucial tool of independence for visually impaired persons.
This community, because of the natural consequence of their disability and structural defect, is vulnerable to environmental insecurity in their efforts to navigate the roads and buildings.