Our contact with youths with hearing and speech impaired in 2003 opened a new phase of their problems which nobody knows or many people seem not to know. I have been dealing with disabled groups since 1990 and thought that am used to them but when the popularly called “deaf” came to Friends of the disabled, I got to know that a bigger challenge is on and nobody knows. They were able to communicate to each other and one another and I found myself DISABLED in their mist. They have come to learn as others but who understands them or how will you impart knowledge to them without your knowing their language? At first I was communicating through writing to them to read but still some could not read and could not write what I can read and understand.
By 2007 an idea came on how to solve the problem, i .e. the society adjusting and learning to communicate with them. For the “deaf” they cannot adjust and hear but the citizens can use their hands and learn to communicate with them. This is the only way out and easy too but very difficult to convince people to engage in what does not concern them or what they cannot benefit from. If it is new technology or any ICT program every adult would fasten belt to learn/acquire the knowledge but it is something to do with disabled people. In the presence of discrimination and isolation, it becomes impossible to embark on a course that has little or nothing to do with their daily living.
God in His Wisdom and love for His people brought another idea of floating Sign language Club in primary and Secondary schools just as there are Extra-curricular activities in the schools from where students and pupils choose what appeals to them to do. In the Spirit of catch them young, we started the Sign language club in primary and secondary schools Courtesy Global Fund For Children (GFC) and by 2009 FOTD flagged off sign language club in FUNTOB Schools Shololu Lagos and Kaduna. From then to now 2013 we have establish sign language Clubs in Junior Secondary school Pasali, Kuje, FCT Abuja, Bema Homes, (A motherless babies Home),Knowledge International Secondary school in Afo-Oru Mbaise,Imo State, Ereko Methodist schools Obalende Lagos. Knowledge International has adopted sign language as a subject for all their students and that maximises our achievement. Our efforts and Clubs in St. Finbas Secondary school and St Mary’s Primary school Apapa were not receiving the desired encouragement by the Authorities needed to survive it . We are aware that if a Nigerian wants to go to France or Germany to study/live to work or survive, he/she MUST learn the language to be successful otherwise he/she would be deaf and dumb there and would not belong. With this fact and other known problem-solving techniques, a new generation of Nigerians need to evolve with sign language skills. To date we have over five hundred “normal” children who can conveniently and successfully communicate with the hearing impaired.
We want to thank God The Lagos State Government who have seen the need to train their Health workers to learn sign language so as to attend to the hearing and speech impaired directly when they come to the hospital. We appeal to the Banking Sector, The Oil Sector and all the places a “deaf” person is likely to be found to kindly train some of their workers and spread them to Branches to attend to these Special People. Finally FOTD wants to inform the society that the skills acquired by this group of disabled persons may not help them to live economic independent life unless the society can communicate and do business with them. It is easy to learn between3-6 months and it is cost effective. Join us in the Sign language learning Campaign.