The National Commission for Persons with Disability (NCPWD) have restated its commitment to facilitate the introduction of a curriculum on Sign Language from primary to tertiary institutions in the country.
The Executive Secretary of NCPWD, Mr James Lalu, said this when members of Association of Sign Language in Nigeria and National Association of the Deaf in Nigeria paid him a visit on Thursday in Abuja.
Lalu explained that the push was to ensure that the deaf community is not left behind in access to communication, social, health, economy, financial and security services.
He said he is a benefitciary of sign language, adding that it is sign language that helped him to bridge the communication gap and also enable him to do what he is doing today.
“Sign Language is very important means of communication to the deaf community. It is like every other language. This is part of human diversity.
“The work that you, Sign Language Interpreters, are doing is very important and you should be proud of what you are doing, because you are contributing to a better society, Nigeria and the world.
“The global philosophy today is leaving no one behind; your contribution to the system is to make sure that the deaf are never left behind. We appreciate you for all that you are doing.
“Our commitment to improving access to sign language in Nigeria remain unshakable. As an institution, we are working together with the Nigeria Association of the Deaf.
“As soon as we get the second version of the sign language, we will present it to the Federal Executive Council for approval for recognition of Nigerian Sign Language as an official language in Nigeria.
“After the recognition, we are going to work with relevant institutions to input sign language as part of school curriculum from primary to secondary schools, and tertiary institutions,” Lalu stressed.
Earlier, the Vice President of National Association of the Deaf, Mr Haruna Shafe, says sign language interpreters are part of the deaf community.
“Therefore, this day has united us and brought us together. We want to thank NCPWD for the support it has given to the deaf community and sign language project in Nigeria.
“Very soon we will come out with the production of the research on sign language that we started last year. We pray that God gives us more grace for us to be more united,” Shafe said.
Also speaking, Ms Lisa Weems, the former president of National Alliance for Black Interpreters in Washington DC, said she was looking forward to do positive things with sign language interpreters and the deaf community.
“I am honoured and proud to be part of this development and project. Without language, we can’t live. The deaf can have access to social services, human rights, health, etc, if sign language is understood by all and sundry,” she said.
Similarly, Mr Timothy Tinat, the National President of the Nigeria National Association of Sign Language Interpreter, said the association was celebrating the International Week of Sign Languages.
“As part of deaf community, sign language interpreters provide services to bridge the gap of communications and we want to use the opportunity to create awareness to members of the public the importance of sign language.
“So that the nurses in the hospital can learn it, the bankers can learn it, the police and even people in the media can learn it, because the population of the deaf people in Nigeria is so huge that cannot be neglected.
“We have about nine million deaf people in Nigeria and people should start learning so that they can assist us to create more awareness and access to our brothers and sisters who are deaf,” Tinat said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that high point of the occasion was the award of Nigerian traditional wears and other items to Weems. (NAN)