Written by Ijeoma UKAZU

People with disability demand inclusiveness, equality

Persons With Disabilities, PWDs, have called for inclusiveness and equality in order to create enabling environment for the disabled.

At a media roundtable to commemorate the 2018 International Day of Persons with Disabilities in Lagos with the theme: "Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality" the programs manager of Nigeria Association of the Blind, NAB, Ejiro Okotie, said the event is focused on issues pertaining to inclusiveness of PWDs in the society and ensuring no one is left behind.

According to her "when we talk about inclusion and relating it with PWDs, what comes to mind is 'they have come again', but we need to understand that inclusion is everybody's right. It is not a privilege or for a few individuals. It is a right that every individual should enjoy."

She said a United Nations report indicate that 15 percent of the world’s population are PWDs and in Nigeria, 29.7 million persons are living with disabilities.

Okotie said, "If we are to bring Nigeria's statistics down to Lagos State, we have 22 million people living in the state and an estimated 10 percent of that population are PWDs, then it is not a figure to sweep under the carpet. This huge portion of Nigerians cannot be ignored because each person have something to bring to the table.

"It is important to create avenue even in the health sector for PWDs to be able to enjoy their rights and also to give back to the system."

However, she said PWDs suffer from a lot of issues caused by society such as; infrastructural access as most health facilities are high rise buildings and often do not consider PWDs during construction.

She said information access is another challenge as elevators in Nigeria don't have Brailles on the walls for the blind. Giving an instance, Okotie said "like when I travelled abroad, I was in the elevator and I missed my way. I was able to find my way through the Braille written on the walls. In that situation, you don't need the help of anyone because you can find your way to the right floor."

Okotie said these are big issues that sets PWDs aside as they often dread going to the hospital to access health care in order to avoid being a burden.

Also speaking at the event, the Director, Monitoring and Evaluation, Lagos State Office of Disability Affairs, LASODA, Mr Oguntoye Akintunde Oyewole, said that the agency has written letters to all public institutions in Lagos State to ensure disable-friendly access.

He said it is inhumane for a person with wheel chair not being able to access a building, stressing that it is the essence of inclusiveness as nobody should be left behind.

 

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