Persons with Deaf-Blindness have expressed displeasure in the treatment received from members of the public which is discriminatory and further causes psychological trauma for them.
PWDBs made this known while sharing their stories of survival at a roundtable discussion on Usher syndrome/Deaf-Blindness, organized by LionHeart Ability Leaders International Foundation, LALIF, with support from Disability rights Fund, DRF.
The different participants who shared their stories noted that all they require is ‘Empathy’ and not ‘Sympathy’ as the former would help to drive positive change as opposed to mere ‘pity’ which is of no impact.
Sharing his story, Oluwaseyi Moses, Deputy State Coordinator, LALIF, Lagos State Chapter, explained the level of rejection he faced right from home but appreciated the support of his mother who stood by him all through.
Moses explained that, “a lady gave me poison to take, saying she was helping me because I am Deaf and Blind and the best thing for me was to die,” adding that such action is the worst one could ever experience.
Anthony Nwokolo, Founder, Founder and Proprietor, Hope Fountain School for the Deaf, Egbeda, Lagos, also spoke on how he was rejected from studying at the Federal College of Technology, Yaba, Lagos because of his impairment.
“Despite my good entry results, YABATECH says they don’t have facilities for me and asked me to withdraw but I appealed and was given a grace of one academic semester to prove that I can cope in an academic environment.
“Within the one semester grace period, I was able to prove my abilities and I was one of the best graduating students during my set,” he added.
On his part, Founder, LALIF, Solomon Okelola who was partially sighted as a child and hard of hearing, said the only way he could learn was to move around the class during lectures.
“I would leave my seat, walk to the board to see what has been written, because I can’t see it from my seat and I can’t hear from there.
“I had to observe this routine repeatedly, till I’m able to finish copying the notes. Other students were not comfortable with this, as I would be obstructing their view while in front and the teachers think I’m slowing them down.
“Going through this was not an easy experience for me, but I was able to scale through,” he added.
Speaking to participants at the roundtable discussion, Barrister Theophilus Odaudu, Programmes Officer, DRF/DRAF, Nigeria, commended LALIF for the activity which he believes would achieve its purpose.
He noted that DRF is delighted to support the cause of Persons with Deaf-Blindness by ending the stigmatization and discrimination that they face.