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NAB calls for removal of barriers to education of PWD’s disability

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The Nigerian Association of the Blind (NAB) on Monday in Lagos called for the removal of discrimination and barriers to the education of Persons Living with Disability (PWD’s).

The association made the plea in a communique issued at the end of a one-day workshop titled: ” Disability and Inclusion in the Educational Sector for Tertiary Institutions.

In his presentation, Mr Opeolu Akinola said that discrimination and physical barriers to full participation in education put PWD’s at a disadvantage.

Akinola said the discrimination prevents PWD’s from getting the full impartation of skills that make them equal adults with their non-disabled counterparts.

He explained that an accessible educational system precedes an accessible society.

“This does not positively impact only PWD’s but all other participants including lecturers, administrators, students and other stakeholders who gain the consciousness of disability, not as an oddity but as just another normal human diversity,” Akinola said.

He explained that PWD’s have leveraged technology to make life easy for them.

According to him, PWD’s form a sizable proportion of students and even staff in higher education in Nigeria.

He said this was in spite of disability not appear in student data disaggregation alongside gender, state of origin, course of study and other parameters.

“The West African Examination Council (WAEC), Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) and other examination bodies collect disability data only as it affects testing accommodation.

“The tertiary institutions use this data to apply interventions such as waivers for cut-off points, subject prerequisites and exemption from post-UTME tests.

“As disability is very diverse, many disabled students slip through this lose net, especially those living with invisible conditions,” Akinola said.

He said that necessary support systems such as accessible physical environment, inclusive curriculum, websites built along with principles of universal design, reasonable accommodation in administering assessments and disability awareness activities were germane to inclusive education.

He, however, noted it’s the absence in most schools because disability was not yet recognised as a form of human diversity by school authorities.

“As a result, many disabled students fail to successfully complete academic programmes.

“The numbers are expected to rise steeply with the advent of COVID-19-related arrangements that create new barriers to the participation of PWD’s in the educational system.

The communique urged the government and policymakers to provide a disability-friendly culture and support systems in schools that would favour inclusion.

He added that the use of technology to meet diverse disability needs was important in meeting the needs of PWD’s.

“Tertiary institutions that embrace inclusion not only gain improved public goodwill but also create a safety net for any staff who inadvertently becomes disabled as a result of accidents, health conditions or old age,” the communique said.

The communique noted that the forum had in attendance representatives from Yaba College of Technology, Lagos State University, Ojo campus and PWD’s.

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