Chairman, Ajeromi-Ifelodun Deaf Association, AJIFDA, Prince Olatunde Raimi, has called on local governments and corporate bodies to initiate programmes that would help the deaf become self-reliant.
Raimi, who is the Vice Chairman, Lagos State Association of the Deaf, LSAD, stated this at the third Ajeromi-Ifelodun Deaf Awareness Day 2015 with the theme: `Transforming Disability into Asset: Deaf People as Assets Rather Than Liability’.
“The aim of this programme is to bring issues of deaf people and deafness to the front burner and to create awareness in order to enhance opportunities for the deaf at the local level.
“People with disabilities, especially the deaf often participate actively in elections and join the campaign but get disappointed and relegated to the background as soon as the elected officers assume office.
“If the deaf are given special positions, it would go a long way in reducing the hardship and discrimination they often face in the society.”
He said local governments and corporate bodies should identify with and include the deaf in government, public and private establishments.
According to him, some of their members are intelligent and talented in spite of their hearing challenges and can contribute meaningfully to the development of the society.
Raimi called for the strict implementation of the Special People Bill (Disability Bill) being executed by the Lagos State Office for Disability Affairs, LASODA, at the local government level.
He added that it would be an advantage for the promotion of economic development of deaf people.
Special Education Officer, Federal Science and Technical College, Yaba, Mr Sulaimon Akinremi, said deafness, hearing impairment, or hearing loss is the inability to hear things either totally or partially.
He said people who experience hearing loss or deafness face different challenges, depending on when it occurred and how long it took to develop.
“A feeling of isolation is a common problem which can sometimes lead to depression and loneliness; add to that the process of coming to terms with a disability.
“It is also a challenge for household members, loved ones and close friends who have to adapt to the person’s hearing loss or deafness. The deaf have a culture like every human society whether in the majority or minority .The deaf culture is a set of social beliefs, behaviours, art, modes of worship and so on.
“They have an identity because they live and interact as a distinct group. Members of this community tend to view deafness as a difference in human experience rather than a disability or disease.
“The deaf also have a sign language, value friendship and family and also employable skills and qualifications,’’ he said.
Akinremi noted that full participation by people who are deaf would benefit the society as individual contributions would enrich all spheres of life.
According to him, people who are deaf are an integral part of a society’s wellbeing and progress must be made with or without disabilities.
He urged the deaf not to limit themselves but to contribute and play important roles within communities and work environments.
He said they could not afford to be left behind by clinging to outdated ideas or concepts which inhibits transformation by undervaluing the important and leading roles people with disability play.

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