Foundation seeks inclusion of persons with disabilities in all human endeavours

Foundation seeks inclusion of persons with disabilities in all human endeavours
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By Lilian Okoro

The Down Syndrome Foundation of Nigeria (DSFN) has urged  the Federal Government to develop a legislative framework and national policy for total inclusion of persons with disabilities in all areas of human endeavour.

The President of the Foundation, Mrs Rose Mordi, made call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Lagos.

Mordi said it had become pertinent for  the government to consider total inclusion of persons with disabilities by recognising and protecting their human rights like other citizens.

“This can be achieved by developing digital resources and skills that foster inclusion, training teachers in the principles of accessible education for all, and creating accessible tools adapted to different learning requirements.

“These rights touch on every aspect of life: the right to go to school, to live in one’s community, to access health care, to start a family, to engage in political participation, to be able to play sport, to travel, to be employed and also to have decent work,” she said.

According to Mordi, while the coronavirus pandemic has upended societies globally and deepened pre-existing inequalities, persons with disabilities are among the worst affected.

She added that they were more likely to live in poverty and experience higher rates of violence, neglect and abuse.

She regretted that over the years, there had been reports emanating from people with disability on the issue of discrimination and stigmatisation.

She, however, said it was time, the government and stakeholders commit to work together to tackle the obstacles, injustices and discrimination that persons with disabilities experience.

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“As the country is battling to contain and recover from the pandemic, we should ensure that the aspirations and rights of persons with disabilities are included and accounted for in an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 era.

“This vision will only be achieved through active consultation with persons with disabilities and their representative organisations,” she said.

The DSFN President said it was only through the adoption of a human rights approach that the aim of equitable, sustainable and resilient societies be achieved.

she noted there are raw talents yet to be harnessed from these people and if given the opportunity, they could contribute to economic development of the country.

“It is time for their voices to be heard, it is time to give them opportunity like others and they deserve to be loved and cared for,” she said.

She, therefore, urged government to intensify efforts to establish special schools for persons with disabilities particularly persons with intellectual/developmental disability  including down syndrome.

“Parents do not see the value of educating a child with disability; some parents are afraid of discrimination and negative attitudes of others.

“Those children with disabilities in schools face barriers, such as inaccessible physical environment, inaccessible communication and lack of adapted learning materials.

“But, if there are special schools specifically designed and equipped for persons with disabilities; it will go a long way to aid their academic pursuit,” she said

Mordi noted that negative attitudes, insensitivity and failure to acknowledge the rights of persons with disabilities were among the root causes of the barriers to their education. (NAN)

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