M4D, PERL to Actualize Yet another Dream of People with Disabilities
….10, 000 visually impaired persons to receive free white canes
Zainab Tanimu – Kaduna, NIGERIA
Mobilizing for Development (M4D) a DFID-Supported Programme is supporting yet another developmental stride of Mallam salisu Ibrahim, founder, ‘Life Education Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities.
The Grants Manager, Alhaji Mustapha Bello while launching the Free White Cane Scheme for the visually impaired people had commended Mallam Salisu Ibrahim of the Federal Radio Cooperation of Nigeria,(FRCN) for his efforts towards up lifting the status of persons with disabilities in the society. He said, 10,000 white and green canes to be distributed to 10,000 visually impaired persons and persons with low vision in Nigeria for the next two years would give them the desired recognition and protection.
Mustapha disclosed this while presenting the white canes to some of the visually impaired persons at the “Free White Cane” launching scheme which took place at the Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation in Kaduna.
He had re-iterated M4D’s commitments in supporting initiatives that have positive impacts on the life of the ordinary man.
“We like people that would come with good initiative that would have impact on peoples’ life like that of Mallam Salisu. The Life Education Training Centre for Persons with Disabilities established by Mallam Salisu we found to be very good initiative as such, M4D had to buy some machines, computers and some other things for the school to train them for free.
Some of these persons had never been to school before. They never knew how to write their names. It is yielding good results. The last time we visited, one of students came out to show how well he was faring in English by addressing the audience. It was really amazing. I must say the project has sharpened the lives of many of them.
All we are trying to do since the initiative is good is that; we want to see how we can sell it to government as well as encourage other individuals to support such projects. We are pushing to see that the Kaduna state disability bill come to stay. Also is that of creating disability Trust Fund.”
In the same vain, PARTNERSHIP TO ENGAGE, REFORM AND LEARN (PERL), one of the co-Partners and the Chairman, Sardauna Foundation both commended the good work of Salisu saying, the introduction of the white cane would be of immense benefit to the visually impaired.
The representatives of security operatives present, the Road Safety, Police, and KASTELEA, all pledged their support in ensuring that the visually impaired and others persons living with disabilities in Kaduna state are assisted and well protected.
In their separate paper presentations, Dr. Ben Yayok, with the paper titled, “Esteem Development and Independent Living through the use of White Cane by the Visually Impaired People in Nigeria”, and Mr. Bulus Daniel of the Rehabilitation Science Department of Kaduna Polytechnic with the theme, “The Use of Mobility Training and Orientation both lauded the efforts of Mallam Salisu’s call for the recognition and inclusiveness of people with disabilities in running the affairs of the nation.
Dr. Yayok in his paper called on the society to treat them with love. Everybody he said is equal before God and that a lot of them are pace setters. He gave examples of the convener of the event Salisu Ibrahim, a broadcaster with the Federal Radio Cooperation Kaduna, Mical Shabi, a program producer with the Kaduna State Media Cooperation (KSMC) and Dr. Bitrus Gani, a Nigerian. All of them visually impaired. This he said is an indication that there is ability in disability.
He urged those with disabilities to adjust to reality of life and identify with the society.
“Don’t exempt yourself from people. Identify yourself with the society. You did not create yourself. You did not cause your condition. Make sure that you are confident just as those that are not impaired. Build confidence and be educationally equipped. After all; “One sensory organ does not render a person useless”. He said.
He has recommended that government does the following as a way of giving them sense of belonging.
- That government should give scholarship to them, wave the issue of credit in English and Mathematics as condition to gaining admission so that they can be admitted into Kaduna State University (KASU), and other state owned institutions of higher learning.
- Any of them that are qualified for a position should be given employment. And that the position of Special Adviser to Kaduna state Government on Disability Matters should be retained because they understand their problems better and would be in a better position to table them to government.
- Discriminating attitude against them should be resisted in order that they do not constitute themselves as nuisance in the society. Government needs therefore to carry them along by developing their potentials in order that they can contribute positively to the society.
- In the area of politics, the federal government should ensure that names of political parties are written in braille for easy identification by the visually impaired. With this, they would not be excluded in the exercise.
In his paper titled, “The Use of Mobility Training and Orientation”, Mr. Bulus Daniel stressed on training and orientation on the use of the white cane. He defined disability in term of function and that once a system cannot perform a specific task, the person becomes handicap. The cane therefore is a tool that is of a great significant in the hands of the visually impaired since it is a devise that would help them to move freely on their own.
“Over protection of one with disability is going to have negative effect in terms of their attitudinal development. The greatest problem the visually impaired face is not the blindness but the societal attitude. He said.
Using the white cane and the sighted guide at the same time might cause accident for such is not mobility. A standard cane is that which is measured up to the chest level of the user and should be held a little above the elbow”.
Responding to the issue of awarding scholarship to people living with disabilities, the senior Special Assistant from Kaduna Scholarship Board said the state has restructured the board thus assured them of inclusiveness. The head of operation he said has received names of about 90 of them which hopefully would be sponsored.
The Senior Assistant to Kaduna state Government on Disability Matters, Aminu Salisu urged them to develop the habit of using the cane and that a bill is already in place to address their issue.
“Understand yourself as one who is blind. White cane is a safety tool for the blind.”
Speaking earlier, Mallam Salisu Ibrahim said once the awareness of the symbol of the ‘white cane’ is created and fully recognized, they would gain the needed recognition in the society. The ‘white cane’ he said is an internationally accepted symbol of blindness and connotes the existence of the visually impaired person in a society.
The history he traced back to 1921 when a photographer in the United Kingdom James Biggs feeling threatened by increased motor vehicle traffic around his home after an accident claimed his sight decided to paint his black walking stick to white so as to make himself more visible to motorists. Doctor Richard Hoover a rehabilitation specialist later improved the wood to the modern long white cane which was internationally recognized in 1944. As far back as 1930 the first ordinance concerning the use of white cane was passed in United State and other countries. He said.
“On October 6, 1964, a joint resolution of the Congress, HR 753, was signed into law authorizing the President of the United States of America to proclaim October 15th of each year as “White Cane Safety Day.
“On behalf of all visually impaired Nigerians and people with low vision, l am using this medium to call on the policy makers, relevant organizations and agencies to assist the visually impaired in having some policies and laws that would impose the use of the white cane by the visually impaired and also to give protection and recognition of the visually impaired using the white cane.
We observe and understood that the white cane considering the economic instability of our country may not be affordable to many of our colleagues. We plan therefore, to distribute free of charge 10,000 white canes and green canes to 10,000 visually impaired Nigerians and people with low vision in the next two years”.
Those who added their voices to the good work of Mallam Salisu included the Principal, Kaduna state Special School of the Blind, Hajiya Salamatu Shaibu who was recognized as mother to all the visually impaired in Kaduna state. Others appreciated included Mallam Sadiq Abubakar, Tahiru Gambo , Mr. Andrew Gani and Paul Satimari who together could not hide their praises for Salisu’s doggedness in charting the course of his people.
The project is in partnership with M4D, PERL and supported by Sardauna Memorial Foundation.