By Rebecca Ejifoma
In celebration of the International White Cane and Safety Day 2020, the Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB) Lagos Chapter has urged the public to always make way for persons with visual impairment in Lagos State and Nigeria.
The association made this call during its empowerment and White Cane Awareness rally in Epe area of Lagos State with an aim to create more awareness.
The Executive Director of Joy to the World Special Needs Initiative, Grace Ilori, whose NGO partnered the association, hinted that the White Cane and Safety Day is set aside to create awareness about the use of white cane.
“Today, we are creating awareness, letting everyone – motorists, traders, the public – know that when they see persons with visual impairment using the cane they should make way for them because with the cane they are able to navigate and find their way.
“So if you obstruct their way then there is going to be a problem. You can imagine if the walkways are not free you have traders, motorists plying the walkway and they are supposed to go that way,” she emphasised.
Urging the public to make way when they see people with visual impairment, Grace bemoaned that to a large extent they have not been given fair access.
“When you are talking about persons with visual impairment you want to see accessibility in the real sense of it, making sure that there is that accessibility to enable them to move independently.
Joy to the World Special Needs Initiative provided t-shirts, talks, posters and 20 white canes for members of NAB who don’t have white canes, while NAB gave out four computers to its members as empowerment tools.
“Everything we provided is to the tune of N220,000”, she added that, “there is the much we are able to do for now and we hope to do much more”.
While everyone was affected during the seven months lockdown, the Chairman of NAB Lagos chapter, Mr. Babatunde Mohammed decried the challenges of their members at that trying time.
“The challenges of not having opportunity to make money. A lot of our members are not employed. Let me say some of our members are not fully employed so they depended on some public individuals and corporate bodies to survive,” he highlighted.
According to Mohammed, during the lockdown, “They could not move. Of course churches, and mosques were locked down so they could not really get means of livelihood as a result of that lockdown, so that’s the main problem.
One of its members, Michael Fadeyi, a Chief Producer in Voice of Nigeria (VON) said people with visual impairment in Lagos State are not given special treatment.
“No, there is nothing. If you look at our Lagos state, we have all the laws in Nigeria. Our problem is implementation. Like I said, we might not have a perfect law on disability in Lagos state but even the one we have to what extent have we implemented it?,” he questioned.
He further hinted, “Even the government too came up with the law themselves are they implementing it? The agency set up to coordinate the implementation of the law, how equipped and trained are they to even discharge such services?”