From Vikky Uba, Abuja
The Nigerian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD) has accused the Akwa Ibom State official airline, Ibom Air, of discrimination against deaf people, particularly as it concerns employment and flight services.
NNAD National President Dr Chidi Olujie made the accusation on Wednesday during a press conference in Abuja, meant to address concerns of deaf people living in the country.
In his speech, Olujie said that policies put in place by the airline are highly discriminatory towards deaf people, citing that it mandates persons with disability to have non-disability persons accompany them, without specifying who will pay for such persons.
‘Preventing the deaf who paid for their flight tickets with their hard-earned money from boarding the flight is not only wrong but condemnable.
‘We have complained but they have refused to do anything. They said they are following civil aviation policy. It’s just Ibom Air that does this because other airlines do not act this way. I have travelled all over the world with other airlines. Why do I need to travel with company? Am I a baby?,’ he asked.
He called on the Ministry of Aviation, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and other federal regulatory agencies in the aviation industry to investigate and prosecute the discriminatory aviation policies.
Dr Olujie further called on the federal government to employ more deaf Nigerians in the workforce. He said that the Federal Teachers’ Scheme (FTS) has not employed any deaf person in its workforce, and non of the members of the deaf community has been included since the commencement of the National Identity Management System (NIMS).
‘We have many deaf Nigerian children out-of-school because there is no one to teach them when they go to school. We are begging the government to include deaf teachers to reduce out-of-school deaf children in Nigeria.’
Olujie also advocated for the inclusion of sign language interpretations and captions on government and private television stations. He said that the need to address the non-inclusive news reporting format by the mainstream media is paramount.
Additionally, Olujie admonished the press to continue to highlight issues affecting people living with disabilities, stressing that discrimination to one is discrimination to all.