Association for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities of Nigeria (AIDDN) recently held a momentous seminar to celebrate and remember people living with disabilities in Nigeria and the world generally.
The seminar which was held virtually and attended by relevant stakeholders was to emphasize and stress the need for the government and society at large to give the required attention and opportunities to the people living with disabilities in the society.
The stakeholders who spoke during the event said that if people living with disabilities are well managed in the area of education, health, job and other opportunities, they would use their talents to contribute substantially to the development of Nigeria as they are obviously doing in other parts of the world.
The august seminar which had the theme “Building Back Better Towards a Disability-Inclusive, Accessible and Sustainable Post Covid-19 World” had the following people in attendance: Dada Olu Shonibare, Special Needs Education expert from NERDC, Mrs Grace, Alexander, MD/CEO, Star Children Initiative, UK, Mrs Bola Abimbola, Snr Consultant on Special Needs, UK among others.
In her opening address, the host who is also the National President of AIDDN, Mrs Jokotola Dawodu Omotola noted that the theme of the seminar was perfectly in sync with the United Nations policy on Special Needs because it addresses the issue of responding to the urgent needs of people living with disabilities.
Mrs Omotola added that people with disabilities are the most vulnerable elements in this period of covid-19, adding that the major albatross militating against them are indequate healthcare, barriers in education and other factors.
Omotola said: ” We are all aware that people living with disabilities are the most vulnerable during the Covid-19 period due to some barriers in healthcare, social and environmental issues. We also suffer from discriminatory attitudes and inaccessibility to education and other facilities.
“In line with our theme, it is our unique opportunity to build back better our health care system and other systems, most especially, education, so that they would be more responsible to the people living with disabilities.
Omotola also advocated for early intervention for people living with disabilities, noting that this move would strengthen their physical, emotional and cognitive capacities. She added that early intervention include therapy, education and other supports.
In her speech, Mrs Bola Abimbola, UK based Special Needs Consultant, lamented that low income countries did not support children living with disabilities during the temporal school shutdown following the outbreak of covid-19.
Acccording to the expert, kids living with disabilities were and still disproportionatelyt affected, noting that they were not put in mind in the design of distance learning. “This leaves the children falling behind or withdrawing from education,” she added
She stressed the significance of management of young adults with disabilities through assessment based system, which according to her has been found effective all over the world.
Abimbola said: “We need to emphasize on management of our adults with disabilities. How do we manage our young adults into self reliance.? One thing that has been found effective around the world is when government adopt assessment based system. So, for anybody who has disability at any age, they are accessed and the provision that is made for them is based on the assessment,” she said
The senior consultant also harped on the importance of awareness, noting that AIDDN should continue to intensify on awareness with parents, professionals, groups like Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, charity organisations and also raise awareness with governments at all levels through lobbies, emails and other activities.
Mrs Abimbola also also urged AIDDN to focus on building of membership through subscription and donations, adding that the capacity of AIDDN would depend on the numbers that can be called upon to rally or lobby government.
The virtual seminar also featured interactive session where participants were given opportunities to ask questions and expressed their views.