Over the past two decades, there has been increased concern on the plight of people living with disabilities and the need to foster social and developmental inclusion in the society. This is even as experts have continued to preach about inclusive society to benefit people living with disabilities, in line with the United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolutions 63/150 and 65/186.
The United Nations General Assembly resolutions 63/150 and 65/186, calls upon States to ”…ensur[e] accessibility and reasonable accommodation to enable persons with disabilities to realize their right to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, as well as to be agents and beneficiaries of development.”
There has been five United Nations world conferences held in the 1990s to emphasize the need for a ‘society for all,’ advocating the participation of all citizens, including persons with disabilities, in every sphere of society.
These meetings were aimed to promote greater awareness of accessibility and ICT accessibility in particular; promote policy and practices that facilitate the social inclusion and advancement of persons with disabilities in development through ICT accessibility, including in emergencies and natural disasters; and to identify good practices and innovative approaches to advance ICT accessibility as well as promote traditional human resources intensive solutions such as sign language and subtitling as means to further inclusive development for all.
Therefore, there has been increased appreciation across the world, Nigeria inclusive that those with disabilities have abilities and that PLWDs are part and parcel of the society.
These facts played out during the hosting of the first International Conference on Disabilities, held at the Civic Centre in Lagos, last week, as experts intensified calls for the National Assembly (NASS) to speedily work to pass the Disability Bill.
Promasidor Nigeria limited added its voice to the call for an inclusive society to benefit people living with disabilities. The International Conference on disabilities was a three-day affair.
Speaking to the media during the gala night on Wednesday, Manager Corporate Communications, Promasidor Nigeria Limited, Ms Ebi Akpeti said disabled people have not always been encouraged to see themselves as having a valuable role in society and it was time that society created a system that include people that are disabled. She said Promasidor Nigeria had always had a passion for people with disability specifically noting that the company had over the years supported such causes such as the parasoccer tournament, an annual sporting event for the disabled in Nigeria.
The conference with theme Improving access and building capacity with special focus on health, education, social welfare & employment was organized by The International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to bring to the forefront some of the challenges people with disability in Nigeria face such as inadequate health care, negative attitude of teachers, and discriminations against workers with disabilities and also to provide a better understanding to members of the public on issues and programmes relating to people with special needs.
First of its kind in Africa, the conference brought together policy makers , decision maker and stakeholders to infuse private sector experience to support people with disability, as well as foster endearing relationships with the business community through dissemination of information and awareness interventions.
Also, speaking during the conference, Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State and his Nasarawa counterpart, Alhaji Umaru Al-makura, urged the National Assembly (NASS) to speedily work to pass the Disability Bill.
The conference included several side shows such as art exhibitions, business breakfast to a celebrity red carpet studded gala night.
Other sponsors include Union Bank, Sahara Group, MTN Foundation, Dangote, First Bank and Wakanow.
This story was published in Newswatch Times on July 2, 2015.