Saturday, 15 October 2011

Deaf families

Back in the early '80's, I had a teacher who had some siblings who were born deaf and had 2 nephews who were brothers and attended my school.  I vividly remember the time that Miss.D took my class ( just me and 2other boys- yeah a very small one!) out to her sister's (and the nephews') house.

What a rich learning experience it was for me. I was very inquisitive to know AND SEE how a whole family:deaf father,deaf mother,deaf sons and deaf daughter live(d). First question to my inquiring mind then was: how would they know that someone was at the door? A doorbell pressed, a few seconds later, a beaming  ,friendly female face wearing two hearing-aids opened the door. I curiously entered with everyone else. A small girl of less than a year old (I am not very sure if she wore a body aid-those horrible hearing-aid that I so detested wearing which had to be worn right on the chest and housed in a 'bra'...yes bra!) sat in her high-chair and wasn't pleased at having her mealtime interrupted.

Whilst sitting down and engaging my hyper-inquisitive brain, I saw some flashing lights on the ceiling. I got to find out that those were alarms. Doorbell alarm. Telephone alarm. Baby alarm. And so on. I was really impressed! How innovative was that! I believe that they were using typetalk- telephone that enabled them to type rather than talk. Television in the UK had already featured subtitles at that time.  This was a deaf family living independently. Mind you, this was in the early '80's. And I remember that her husband came back later in the evening FROM WORK.

This was about 3decades ago and technology is meant to have grown in leaps and bounds since then. So when ignorant people these days say things like deaf people,much less, deaf couples (and families) cannot live 'well' (whatever that means) independently, I usually tut-tut and roll my eyes.

Unfortunately I am presently in a country where stable electricity would put to absolute nought all the vain efforts of deaf people to live independently.  One needs power to have the 'modern' but necessary equipment and live a pretty decent life as a human being.  Call it selfish, I am advocating for stable power mainly on behalf of deaf people not for the general population. Come on now, understand the situation. What do you expect deaf people who rely on lip-reading and signing to do in the night when it is pitch-dark???!!! No, why not imagine yourself being with no sense of hearing and unable to see ( I have often imagined how deaf-blind people cope) in a dark environment? Highly frustrating. Very vexing.  Deaf people are not animals. Create an enabling environment for them and more people will get to smile at the end of the day.

Demand for stable power!


  1. Thanks for sharing this..
    ..hmmmm…even for the incurable optimistic, Nigeria can sometimes be very challenging to say the least .
    Let us begin from ‘the beginning”.
    What are the population deaf people in Nigeria?
    Just basic stats.
    You may go further, how many people are in Maitama, a tony neighborhood in Abuja?
    Then how many people are in Abuja?
    Then how many people are in Nigeria?
    What are their electricity requirements?

    We turn out “graduates” yearly, but I will be probably be na├»ve to trust the statistics coming from the Minister of Labor’s office regarding graduate unemployment.
    Even with 90 million cell phone subscribers in Nigeria , much more than South Africa, I think Nigeria is not ready for the modern world…this is 2011..and we still cant generate 5,000MW for 150million people (trust that figure at your own peril),not counting power transmission challenges of whatever MWs generated .
    To put a human face to Nigeria misery, imagine what N10billion naira from the funds one of the governors allegedly looted can do for deaf people?


  2. Leo, thanks for guiding me here!!! To answer your question, the total population of any country --Nigeria inclusive-- that has hearing loss is 10%. This includes deaf, hard of hearing, late deafened...groups called by the catchall phrase "adventitiously deaf". The population that is profoundly deaf as a segment of the total national population is 1%. This is UN and WFD (World Federation of the Deaf) data.

    Regardless, this shouldn't result in denying the basic ask for steady electricity. I remember a story a friend in a wheelchair who worked with a federal agency here in Washington told me years ago. According to her, she got to work only to find the ramp to her building still covered in snow. A maintenance guy was shoveling the white stuff off the steps. She asked him to clear the ramp instead. He retorted "wait for your turn". She replied "if you clear the ramp, everybody can use it". So powerful, illuminating and poignant.

    If you provide electricity so a statistically and relatively small population of Deaf people can enjoy a better quality of living, everybody can use it.

  3. Thank you for your comments, Leo and 'Gbenga with apologies to Leo for not responding earlier.

    It is interesting to learn from 'Gbenga that the UN/WDF figure of those with hearing loss has been put to 10% in all countries. The figure which I got during my research thesis in 2009 was 6.2% for Nigerian school-aged children taken from a NGRn survey in 2000 and provided by Pascolini and Smith in their 2009 study. Of course, this is just a rough estimate which I believe would be closer to 10% when we throw in the 'adventitiously deaf' (thanks for the new terminology) and all the deaf adults into the mix.

    10% of the whole NGRn population translates to approximately 15 million! Which is by no means a small group! I agree with the statement made by your friend and of course, everybody can enjoy/use what is made deliberately and specially available to a 'small' population of deaf ;)

    I hope that sooner rather than later we can get the NGRn gov't see reason if all the 5 decade long of clamouring for steady power had previously fallen on 'deaf ears' *pun intended*