By John Ikani
The Nigerian Government has directed the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to compel public and private television stations to feature sign language interpreters during their major news presentations.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, disclosed this yesterday at the 2021 annual lecture organised by the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in partnership with the Albino Foundation and the European Union (EU).
Lai was responding to a complaint by Monsurat Abdulwasiu, a former leader of the women’s wing of the association of the deaf who lamented that persons with disabilities have suffered exclusion, as they only look at images during news hours without understanding the message.
Abdulwasiu who spoke through an interpreter said: “Only the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, has a sign language interpreter during one of its news hours.
“In the other media platforms, there are no sign language interpreters. Even in the healthcare sector, no sign language in Nigerian hospitals,” she said.
“So, what happens to deaf people when they are reading news, and when they are sick and go to hospital.
“Does it means that we are not entitled to information and healthcare? The government needs to look into this.”
Responding to Abdulwasiu, the minister said he will direct all television stations to adopt the use of sign language interpreters during major broadcast.
“I am very touched by the contribution of the young lady who said there is a need for sign interpreters during the network news and other major news belts,” he said.
“I am going to ask the NBC to direct all our television stations to ensure that there are sign interpreters in all television stations during their major news hours.
“This will not apply to only the Nigerian Television Authority.
“Whether public or private television stations, they must comply with the directive.
“This directive will work both ways. It means the complaint of exclusion will be tackled and the persons with disability of hearing will also be included in programmes and policies of government,” he added.