From Left Mr David Okon, Chairman, Education Committee for the Blind, President NAB Mr Adamu Ishiyaku, ES, NCPWD, Mr James Lalu, DG, NCC Dr John Asein, others are members of blind community
By Justina Auta
The Federal Government has called on authors and publishers to produce “born accessible’’ books to accommodate visually impaired persons.
The Executive Secretary, National Commission for Persons With Disabilities (NCPWD), Mr James Lalu, gave the task at a news conference in Abuja.
Lalu spoke on the domestication (signing of the Copyright Act) and initiation of the the implementation process of the Marrakesh Treaty.
He noted the challenges faced by the blind, people with low vision and print disabled, calling for the production of books in worldwide accessible formats such as braille, audio, e-text and large print to address their challenges.
“We cannot talk about inclusive education without providing learning materials in accessible formats. In our determination and commitment, we will make sure we make it accessible for the blind community,’’ he said.
According to him, the commission has a mini printing press to produce any braille educational materials for free to ensure an inclusive environment for all persons regardless of their disabilities.
He said: “We are inviting the public to make sure they use this printing press and every services they will get are absolutely free.
“ We call on all organisations that any programe that you are doing and will be inviting PWDs, make sure you provide them at an accessible formats because we are here at your service and will provide it for free.’’
He added that plans were on ground by the commission to revive the existing braille printing press in Lagos for the production and distribution of free braille school books for pupils in primary and secondary schools.
The Executive Secretary also called on prospective investors to establish braille printing press to carter to the needs of visually impaired persons.
“ We are calling on the general public, anyone interested in establishing a braille printing press, the NCPWD will provide appropriate license for the printing press.
“And we will work closely with them to ensure that we maintain the standard and quality of documents to be produced to improve service delivery for our pupils to ensure education is accessible for disability community, the blind community.”
Dr John Asein, the Director General, Nigerian Copyright Commission(NCC), stressed the need for accessible educational materials for visually impaired to reduce rates of blind beggars on the street.
“When you tell blind children to leave the street and go to school, and they get to schools and don’t find their own books in those schools, they will go back to the streets.
“Books should be made available to everyone in the manner, way and platform that can be used to learn.
“And for the blind, that means providing the books in accessible formats and copies,’’ he said.
Asein added that as strategy to implement the Marrakesh Treaty, NCC would collaborate with other stakeholders to make the Copyright Act, other funded government books in braille and other accessible formats.
“Everytime government sponsors or funds the production of any book, it will be available in accessible formats because tax payers include both the blind and the sighted, as the blind are part of this nation, so should reap from the national resource,’’ he said.
Mr Adamu Ishiyaku, the National President, Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB), said the implementation of the National Copyright bill into law will ensure access to printed materials for visually impaired persons.
“We urge all these partners to continue to partner with NAB and other stakeholders to ensure implementation of this act.
“Particularly Section 26 of the National Copyright Law is successful and realistic for the visually impaired and otherwise print disabled,’’ he said.
On his part, Mr David Okon, thevChairman, Education Committee for the Blind, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for signing the copyright act and other policies affecting PWDs in Nigeria.
Okon, however, urged incoming governments to implement the Act to enable PWD gain necessary knowledge and literacy that will enable them contribute to national development.
He said: “We should not go into retrospect, but we should progress. We are appealing that the new administration should take it up from there.
“They should implement this act and other provisions that will make equality and equitability in the Nigerian society for PWDs. We want equal rights and equity.’’
Sightsavers Country Director, Dr Sunday Isiyaku, said the signing into law of the copyright act, 2022, and implementation of the Marrakesh treaty would promote greater cultural participation, education and social inclusion for PWDs.
Isiyaku, represented by Ms Esther Angulu, the Programme Manager, Social Inclusion, said: “It is not enough for us to keep talking if we are not out there pushing and ensuring that this is done.
“We will continue to support with the work NAB have started and also support to ensure that the bill is implemented.’’
He reiterated their commitment to partner stakeholders in promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of the society, including education, employment and community life. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola