The Knowledge for the Blind Initiative, an NGO, Tuesday urged government at all levels to reproduce public documents and educational materials in braille to meet the needs of the blind.
Its executive director, Mr. Andrew Gani-Ikilama, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna, that the step would strengthen government’s quest for inclusive education and governance.
Gani-Ikilama also said that the measure would also increase access to information and career choices among the blind and people with low vision in the country.
He noted that, although government was making efforts to ensure no one was left behind in governance, education and political space, the blind were still being discriminated against in terms of access to information, academic materials and career choices.
“For example, the blind cannot access government public documents because they were not reproduced in braille.
“This make access to information and participation in governance very difficult for the blind.
“They were also forced to study certain courses in tertiary institutions because the study materials were not in braille, thereby denying them the opportunity to pursue their educational dream in life.
“It is important to note that access to information and education is a right and not a privilege.
“Therefore, government at all levels must consider the needs of the blind when producing public documents and educational materials, including programmes of event during public gatherings,” he said.
He disclosed that the NGO has set up a braille production centre in Kaduna, the first in the country, with the capacity to produce maps, diagrams and other symbols for the blind.
Gani-Ikilama explained that the equipment was donated by Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation to improve access to information and education by the blind and those with low vision in the country.
“The centre will support the production of newspapers, government documents and educational books in Braille for the blind to pursue their educational career in any university or polytechnic in the country.
“There was a lady in this country that wanted to study physiotherapy but ended up studying law, because the study materials were not in Braille.
“My father is blind, and he studied physiotherapy in England because the study materials were reproduced in Braille.
“He worked as a physiotherapist at Lagos University Teaching Hospital and Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital before he retired. This is now very possible for the blind in this country,” he added.
He commended the DFID-funded Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn, Kaduna state office, for supporting the disability community to push for the passage of Disability Bill in Kaduna state.
He, however, pointed out that the draft bill was not produced in braille for the blind community to go through and make necessary observations and input.
“We are here to fill-in such gaps and to ensure that no blind person in this country is denied the right to information and the right to make certain choices due to lack of vision,” the director said.