By Joy Odor
The Deaf Women Aloud Initiative (DWAI) has launch and unveiled Glossary for Sexual and Reproductive Health in Nigerian Sign language to ensure easy communication between deaf women and health workers to bridge the communication gap that has prevented deaf women from accessing quality healthcare services, especially during pregnancy and childbirth.
The Executive Director of the Initiative, Mrs. Helen Beyioku-Alase who commemorate the lnternational Human Rights Day together with launching of Glossary in Abuja on Thursday, decried that sign language has remain one of the unofficial languages currently used in Nigeria.
Mrs Helen Beyioku-Alase said in Nigeria, about 30 million Nigerians representing 15% of the population has at least one disability and over 10 million, representing 5% of the population are Deaf.
She hoped that the publication and launch of the glossary would motivate healthcare institutions to sponsor and grant Health workers study leave to learn the skill of Sign language.
The DWAI Director called on all Nigerians, be it deaf, hard to hear or hearing would find the glossary useful and develop a Keen interest in learning sign language to make living conditions Better.
She continued to explain that “deaf women represent about half of the people who are deaf, hence the glossary could be more empowering and inclusive that provide Independent for women with hearing impairment when they access health care facilities, being able to explain what is happening to them with or without n interpreter as they simply need to point to the particular health condition within the glossary.
” It is a beautiful innovative way of connecting the deaf women to their health service provider. A more sustainable way of bridging the communication gap than having an interpreter who may not always be there.
Mrs Helen Beyioku-Alase beckoned on the international communities, governments and non-government organizations to key into DWAI project to ensure full participation of persons with disabilities and sign-language.
She was of the opinion that when the Rights of the disabilities are secured, they move closer to achieving the central promise of the 2030 Agenda to “Leave No One Behind.
Speaking is on the international Human Rights Day, the DWAI Director noted that the Day is a Day to uphold the right in which everyone is entitled to as human beings, regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
With the Theme of Day, “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights” Mrs Helen Beyioku-Alase said the Theme relates to the Covid-19 pandemic and focus on the need to build back better by ensuring Human Rights are central to recovery efforts.
“For deaf women, what way can we recover better but to stand up for the right of deaf women? This is why it gives me so much joy that DWAI is launching the first ever Glossary for Sexual and Reproductive Health in Nigerian Sign Language today.
“The vision of the glossary came right years ago following my experience and that of other deaf women when we try to access sexual and Reproductive health services in language that we understand. Since this vision was birthed, bringing it to fruition has not been a walk in the park but the passion to stand up for our Rights have made it possible for us to hold this beautiful work in our hands today.
” It is my hope that this glossary will go a long way to bridge the communication gap between deaf women and health workers when they seek access to sexual and Reproductive Health services” she noted.
In her keynote address, “Access to Healthcare for Deaf Women, a Must for Successful Inclusive Society” the formal Country Director of lpas Nigeria, Dr. Nihinlola Mabogunje described the use of sign language interpreter for meetings in the workplace, to study or for visits to the family GP is unpaired.
According to her, incorporating sign language for future generations for the benefit of those disabled but for Nigerians too is a step Federal Government should take for more inclusiveness.
“Deaf people around the world have found communication during Covid-19 times quite challenging. They had campaigned successfully for a more accessible world but covid-19 had brought with it access restrictions.
“Deaf people now have to use online meetings and lessons, study platforms but it was not designed with deaf people in mind thereby limiting their participation since the virtual platform do not enable deaf people and Sign language interpreters to see each other optimally, let alone lip read or watch signing” she stated.