by Temitayo Famutimi
Persons living with disabilities have said they are being prevented from realising their full potential by an unfriendly environment in the country.
They spoke in Lagos on Monday during a public dialogue organised by Theseabilties Ltd., a non-governmental organisation, in commemoration of the International Day for Persons with Disabilities.
A visually impaired person, Mohammed Afegbua, lamented that the design of many public places precluded persons living with disabilities from accessing essential and non-essential services in the society.
He said, “The environment is not friendly to us in many respects. The available road walks we have in our environment are poorly maintained and many of us have at many times fallen into ditches.
“Some of our colleagues confined to wheelchairs face difficulties accessing banking halls due to the security doors placed at the entrance and these banks have failed to address these challenges.
“Besides, the members of the society are also not helping matters. Many people shun us at overcrowded bus stops especially when we want to cross busy roads. This attitude makes life more difficult for us.”
Another person living with disability, Adegoke Adeola, said the unemployment situation in the country was affecting many of them.
She said, “Many of us struggled to acquire education and skills in order to break away from the vicious circle of poverty but today our dreams and aspirations have been shattered as we can’t find any suitable employment to sustain us.
“Accessing loans to set up small-scale businesses is even a difficulty. Government at all levels needs to address this unemployment situation and make us heave a sigh of relief.”
Mary Adedokun, a visually impaired student, said the visually impaired persons usually had difficulties in getting the results of public examinations they sat for.
She said, “It is already in the public glare that the absence of directional and safety features that we can hear and touch endangers our lives in public places.
“But what about long delays in accessing our results in public examinations such as the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination and Senior School Certificate Examinations?
“We wait many months after able bodied candidates might have accessed their results. This is usually very frustrating and I think it should be addressed.”
Executive Director, Theseabilities Ltd., Adeboye Abioye, urged the state governments to make laws that would improve the lives of persons living with disabilities.
He said, “Lagos State Government has a law for persons with disabilities but the provisions of that law are largely not being implemented.
“Even the people living with disabilities don’t know the provisions needless let alone other members of the public. There is a need for more public enlightenment on the Lagos physical disability law.”
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