Friday, 23 December 2011

2011 in my world...

Being in NGR after a really long time away, I had come to realise that it was much,much more than an appropriate risk. I took stock of the best and worst case scenario of my decision. Best case scenario, many people especially parents would see the 'light' of all the GOOD things that deaf people can do (and do even better)...with a change in attitudes (for the better) in the society and with a result of a much improved non-discriminatory government policies for Persons With Disabilities. Worst case scenario, the government turns a blind eye and refuse to change their position. But in both scenarios, I believe that I can inspire at least one person who is able to inspire others. Now that would indeed be worthwhile.
You see, investing in the lives of those who need some motivation to stick their head out in a cruel and selfish system in NGR is actually a risk. Think about it.

Seeing an awful audiogram not long ago indicating that my hearing has further worsened made me to ask myself difficult questions about almost everything. I would like to think that despite it all, I have actually become a better person. You see, I no longer let anyone define who I am. There is a quote which I really like and it says: 'I was once afraid of people saying "Who does she think she is?" Now I have the courage to stand and say "This is who I am"'.  I no longer seek approval to be who I should be. I no longer need to prove myself to anyone. I discovered that to be content, it is not where I fit in that matters. I have had enough of living my life in the way that others expect me to. The strength I have to face and fight my battles every single day can only come from my faith in God who sees the BIG picture. At the end of the day, I have no excuse not to use whatever I have been blessed with to make my little corner of the global village a better place than I met it.

In my own life's journey, I have been extremely fortunate to meet and have great people in my life. People who let me be me and I want to say a very,very BIG thank you! I have had to say goodbye to certain people whom I felt that maintaining bridges with them would be a waste of my precious time. It's never easy but as we all know that it is a choice that we have to make every now and then.

As 2011 draws to a close, I have taken inventory of the mistakes that I have made and to learn lessons from them. And also time to write a new chapter! Things in general does NOT seem to get better for the average man in NGR with impunity. His basic human rights get trampled. Just take a wee moment and imagine what it would be like for Persons with Disabilities. At the time of writing, the President of Nigeria still has not assented to the Disability Bill!! One year since the Bill was passed in the legislative arm of the government after 7years of being on the floor!! I have lived outside of NGR in the developed world for roughly half my life and it is a stark contrast to NGR. Things that people take for granted in a developed country are what some people fight extremely hard for (eventually with nothing to show for the sweat and tears). What is even more tragic is that many,many more are resigned to feeling that their lives are worthless just because the society views them that way.

Plans are in the works to REALLY do something/make a difference and I'll share with you in due time.

Please permit me to take this opportunity to thank you for reading my blog and to wish you all 'Happy holidays' and to have a great and fruitful year ahead!

Gov. Al-Makura again...

Today I learnt that Gov. Tanko Al-Makura, the Executive Governor of Nasarawa State (unfortunately not my state) got 500 of his indigenes to have hearing tests and earmold impressions made. For these fortunate 500 will be the beneficiaries of new hearing-aids in January 2012. Wonderful!!!

I wish the recepients a great rehabilitation and I thank the kind governor for his efforts!

Thursday, 22 December 2011


An episode at a government office during the week left me pondering on how much longer I would need to educate people....unwilling people that is; on hearing-aids.

Needing to get some information, I walked up to a clerk who was somewhat 'engrossed' at his work. I asked a question and he barely mumbles back in reply. I asked him to repeat himself. He then mumbles again! I was getting a bit impatient with his lack of professionalism when fortunately, another client intervened and told the guy that I was wearing hearing-aids; to which the clerk retorted that he thought I was wearing phone earphones. Really????!!! A lady comes to your desk and asks a question, looks intently at you whilst waiting for you to answer her enquiry. You don't even bother to look up, barely mumble and the excuse is that you thought she was wearing earphones even when she asked you to repeat yourself. **shaking my head** It took an observant person to save the day.

And that's not the first,second,third,etc time that this has happened to me. The hairstyles that I have been wearing rather often is the woven up-dos which exposes my ears. It is worse when my hair covers my ears. I have seriously contemplated wearing brightly colored hearing aids. But they won't help my cause. People would get the impression that I am an uppity girl craving for attention to her new 'earpiece'. **sigh**

 It is worse when I come across unfamiliar and low accents and when I seek clarification, I get accused of being snobby. **sigh sigh**

Deaf Awareness 101- speak clearly and that should be Communicating with everybody 101!

Earphone/piece indeed!!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Happening in China.....

A few days ago, I learnt that the Chinese government would be sponsoring 16,000 deaf Chinese from poor backgrounds to have a cochlear implant! This is being funded by the Central Government of China and the second government-funded program organised by the China Disabled Persons' Federation.

Here is the article and the link:

More deaf kids from poor families to get artificial cochlea embedded free

 BEIJING, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Sixteen thousand more deaf children from low-income families are expected to have artificial cochlea embedded free between 2012-2015, under a program funded by China's Central Government, a Ministry of Health source told Xinhua Tuesday.

This is the second such government-funded program organized by the China Disabled Persons' Federation.

During the period of 2009-2011, the government paid for the embedding of artificial cochlea for 1,500 poor kids with hearing disabilities, and for their follow-up rehabilitative training. Peking Union Medical College Hospital and another 26 hospitals carried out the operations.

Based on the success of the first three-year program, the government has decided to continue with the effort to help more poor children to gain hearing ability.

This time, another 10 hospitals, including Shanxi Provincial People's Hospital, have been added into the list.   

Lovely news!

The first deaf female MP

Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen from South Africa was elected to the Parliament in 1999. She currently serves as the Vice-President of the World Federation of the Deaf.

She earned both her Bachelor's degree in Social Works and Master's in Social Work from Gallaudet University. During her tenure in the Parliament, she was the chairperson for Joint Monitoring Committee on the Improvement of Quality of Life and Status of Children, Youth, and Disabled Persons.

For more information, see the following link:

Source: Gallaudet website.    

More deaf MPs

Culled from: Deaf Sachsen websiteA quick research took me to the deafchurch website where I was informed about 3 more parliamentarians in Europe apart from Helene Jarmer.

They are: Dimitra Arapoglou from Greece, a Belgian Flemish- Helga Stevens and Dr Ádám KÓSA, a Hungarian.

Another website tells me that the European Union of the Deaf campaigned for them when they stood for the Euro elections. This shows that barriers can be overcome in the right circumstances ie great support especially communication-wise. I think that 2 of the parliamentarian use sign-language intepreters.

Culled from Deaf Sachsen website
From R to L: Dimitra Arapoglou, Helga Stevens,Dr Ádám KÓSA,Helene Jarmer.

More on deaf MP

See what a Saturday late afternoon research has led me to......

Helene Jarmer, who according to Wikipedia is the 3rd culturally deaf person to be elected to a national parliament in 2009 and that she became deaf at the age of two as the result of an auto accident. She attended a school for hard-of-hearing students after having been categorized by physicians as being hard of hearing. This afforded her a better quality of education, since in those days the schools for the deaf in Austria were not in the best condition, because none of them allowed sign language to be used for instructional purposes. She graduated as a mainstream student from the Technical High School (Höhere Technische Lehranstalt) of the Ungargasse Education Center (Schulzentrum Ungargasse) in Vienna, Austria.

Jarmer attended and graduated from a teacher training program to be qualified to teach deaf and hard-of-hearing students at high schools (Hauptschule) and in schools for the deaf. After that, she taught for eleven years at the National Institute for the Deaf (Bundesinstitut für Gehörlosenbildung). During this time she taught a bilingual class which included both deaf and hearing students alike, as part of a laboratory school setting.' (culled from Wikipedia)
Photo courtesy: Diepress website
Sign Language Users- I'm sure you know what she is saying! 

Interesting, isn't it?! Especially the part where she lost her hearing through an auto accident.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Another deaf MP

 The only deaf MP in Latin America is Diego Lombana (from Panama); he was pivotal in getting the legislation to recognise the Panamanian Sign Language when he was just 7 years old!! As a result, the law has been informally known as 'Diego's law'. His involvement in the government in Panama has helped to change the attitude of the public towards the deaf.

Here is the article and the link:

Deaf Panamanian parliamentarian visits KDES

 Diego Lombana, the only deaf parliamentarian in Latin America, visited with a Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) fourth grade class while on a delegation visit from Panama to Gallaudet University.

As an elected member of the Asemblea Nacional (National Assembly), Lombana has supported legislation to promote the recognition and use of Panamanian sign language. Attitudes towards the abilities of deaf people and people with disabilities in Panama are slowly changing in appositive way thanks in large part to Lombana's participation in the government. Lombana came to Gallaudet on November 3 as part of delegation including the Panamanian ambassador to the U.S., the Honorable Mario Jaramillo, to meet with Gallaudet University president T. Alan Hurwitz to sign of memorandum of understanding between the University and Panama. The memorandum calls for the establishment of a new international center in Panama to promote the advancement of higher education, teaching, learning, research and services for deaf and hard of hearing students and professionals from Panama and Latin America. The center will be located in Panama City, Panama.

This was not Lombana's first visit to the University. He had visited Gallaudet and KDES with his mother when he was just five years old. The experience of seeing so many deaf people freely communicating inspired him to return to his country and meet with members of parliament to encourage them to officially recognize Panamanian sign language. The officials agreed, and assigned a legislator to Lombana's cause. By the time Lombana turned seven years old, a law was passed for the recognition of Panamanian sign language, informally referred to as "Diego's Law." It was not until Lombana himself become a government official some 20 years later that the law has become more actively used and enforced.

The students in Francisca Rangel's American Sign Language class had no idea about the larger diplomatic mission of Lombana's visit to Gallaudet. Instead, they were intrigued to learn more about this 26-year old deaf man from the Central American country of Panama who came to visit their classroom with his hearing mother and younger brother.

Lombana settled easily into one of the classroom chairs set in a semi-circle of desks and began engaging with the students, showing a map of where he was from and explaining about his job in the government, and life as a deaf person in Panama. The students leaned in eagerly, waving their hands to get his attention and to ask him questions. Lombana is used to finding creative ways to communicate across many languages. Deaf from an illness in his toddler years, Lombana's mother tirelessly advocated for her son to learn Panamanian sign language, spoken Spanish, and written English and French. So, in communicating with the students, Lombana signed in Panamanian sign language which his mother translated into spoken English to an interpreter who translated to ASL, assisted by a Spanish language translator Silvia Golocovsky, coordinator of multi-cultural student services. When the students asked Lombana questions, the whole process was reversed. It was complicated, but the fourth graders kept up with the flow.

The students immediately connected to Lombana being from a Latino background, one student mentioned that her Mom and Dad were from Mexico. Lombana shared that the day of his visit, November 3, marked the celebration of the Independence of Panama like the Americans celebrate the Fourth of July. The students were curious about how the event was celebrated? Did they have fireworks? No, Lombana said, but "we do have huge parades and people dress up in fancy costumes representing different parts of the country." They asked him about sign language in Panama. He showed them some common signs like "Mother" being a pat on the cheek, and "woman" signed with a tug on the earlobe, and the sign for "Panama" where the two hands come together like a gate swinging in and out to signify the Panama Canal.

Lombana travels the world advocating for organizations supporting people with disabilities and health issues, in addition to his government job, he is pursuing a master's degree in computer communication at the Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá. His first ambition in life was to be a pilot (which he still wants to pursue), his second to become a priest (which he decided not to pursue), his third ambition was to become a politician (which he is), and his fourth? Well, he said, some day he might run for president of Panama.

As he left the KDES classroom, he turned and waved to the students and signed, "I will be coming back."  


Photo courtesy: Latino Media Telemetro website

Deaf MPs

I really like this particular article which was gotten from the New Zealand Herald website....

The Green Party is celebrating the election of Mojo Mathers as their 14th MP after the counting of special votes increased the Green's share of the party vote and number of MPs to a record high.

The Green's share of the party vote increased from 10.62 percent on election night to 11.06 percent at the final count. In four of the last five elections, the Green Party has gained an extra seat in Parliament after the special votes were counted.

Ms Mathers said she was delighted at the result and was looking forward to the first day of Parliament on 20 December. Ms Mathers will be New Zealand's first deaf MP and the fifth in the world.

"There are many barriers to democratic participation for disabled people. I hope my presence in Parliament will result in improved accessibility and access to political information for everyone, including those with a hearing impairment."

Ms Mathers has a Masters with Distinction in conservation forestry, has worked as a parliamentary advisor for water issues and was a joint owner of a small business offering forestry management services.

The mother of three is also passionate about representing people with disabilities.

"The recent Human Rights Commission review of Human Rights identifies disabled people as the most disadvantaged minority in New Zealand. As a deaf person who lives and breathes green issues, I am a strong advocate for inclusion for everyone."

Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said the party had been happy growing to 13 MPs and was now ecstatic with 14.

"It's a proud day for the Greens. The 2011 election has delivered us an historic result that cements our place as the third party in New Zealand politics," said Dr Norman."The Greens are part of an international political movement that is in ascendency and our success in this election proves there is a desire for good green change to happen in this term of Parliament.

"We will work constructively in Parliament to advance our key issues of cleaning up our rivers, raising kids out of poverty and creating good green jobs, while also providing opposition leadership on issues such as assets sales, welfare reform and charter schools.

"We are very pleased with the outcome of the MMP referendum. Keeping MMP and proportional representation was important.

"We look forward to the review of MMP and hope it strengthens and further improves our voting system.  (

Photo from the Tvnz website

My brief research to find out more deaf MPs around the world took me to a BBC article of November 1999 on Lord Ashley who was UK's first totally deaf MP. Here it is:

"Lord Ashley is perhaps the worst adversary any government would want to face when trying to drive through unpopular changes to disability benefits.
The former Labour MP commands enormous cross-party and public respect for his vigorous campaigning for disabled rights and his inspirational personal struggle to overcome the effects of deafness.
Probably the most famous deaf person in the UK, he lost his hearing in 1968 but continued to serve as an MP until 1992 when he was made a life baron.
Such is his reputation that his condemnation of the most controversial measures in the Welfare Reform and Pensions Bill carries great moral authority.
Ministers may privately cringe when the 75-year-old peer declares the legislation would not only cause great hardship but also break the moral contract between government and people.
Just as embarrassing for them, his campaign against the Bill in the Lords forced the legislation back to the Commons on Wednesday - prompting a second major backbench revolt against the proposals.
Now with the Bill set to return to a hostile House of Lords, Lord Ashley insists that it is ministers who will "blink first".
'Rebellious nature'
Such defiance is characteristic of a man who admits he has always had "a bit of a rebellious nature".
One of three children born to a poor couple in Widnes, Jack Ashley was only five when his father, a factory night-watchman, died.
"I was always very anxious to campaign on behalf of disadvantaged people. I feel an affinity with them," he once said.
Leaving school at 14 to work as a factory labourer, he became a shop steward six years later and was a local councillor at 23.
He studied at Oxford on a scholarship. Another scholarship then took him to Cambridge, where he caused waves by being the first president of the union who refused to wear evening dress during debates.
In 1951 he unsuccessfully stood for Parliament as the Labour candidate for Finitely. 

After that he worked as a producer for the BBC, making documentaries and political programmes before entering the House as MP for Stoke-on-Trent in 1966.
Overcoming deafness
A ministerial career was predicted until at age 45 he became deaf.
His best-selling autobiography records how his hearing slipped away to nothing after something went wrong following a routine ear operation.
Lord Ashley famously recalled that the last voice he heard was that of the late rugby commentator Eddie Waring.
After initially fearing he would have to give up politics, he decided to battle on and learned to lip read aided by his wife, Pauline.
Other MPs, including political foes such as former Tory prime minister Edward Heath, helped him to take part in Commons debates by turning towards him so he could get a clear view of their mouths.
Others helped him to modulate his speaking voice which he could no longer hear.
Tory MP Neil Marten, sitting on the opposite bench, would put his hands on his head to indicate that his Labour opponent was speaking too high and on his knees to show that he was too low.
But that was where the cross-party co-operation ended. Lord Ashley established himself as an MP who was combative and outspoken in his fight against a wide range of social injustices. His terrier-like attacks on Tory ministers earned him the nickname "that bloody Jack Ashley" long before Lady Thatcher became known as TBW.

"Early on when I first lost my hearing, I think people were a little fearful about attacking me. But as I re-established my confidence, that soon fell away," he recalled.
Despite his pride in his working class roots - he founded the Cloth Caps Club for proletarian MPs - he was always on the right of the Labour Party.
As he became increasingly famous as passionate advocate for disabled rights, he became president of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf.
His celebrity grew even further in 1993 when his hearing was partially restored by a cochlea implant, an electronic device which stimulates the nerves in the inner ear.

Lord Ashley spoke of his delight of at last being able to hear his grandson even though all human voices sounded like "a croaking dalek with laryngitis"    (  

Courtesy: Disabilitynow

Some things jumped out at me from the last article: '....moral contract between government and people', '... Other MPs, including political foes.... helped him to take part in Commons debates by turning towards him so he could get a clear view of their mouths. Others helped him to modulate his speaking voice which he could no longer hear. Tory MP Neil Marten, sitting on the opposite bench, would put his hands on his head to indicate that his Labour opponent was speaking too high and on his knees to show that he was too low....'.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Art exhibition by deafblind artists

Many thanks to my friend S who is deafblind and has been gracious to share certain info about deafblindness in general. I'd like to encourage people to check out this exhibition (which starts on Monday 12th December) in London, UK.

Picture courtesy: SENSE
As the article above states about Lloyd McCullough who drew the above '....Lloyd McCullough’s fantasy images are testament to the richness of his imagination. His artwork takes its viewers into a beautiful and mystical world. Lloyd was born profoundly deaf with Usher syndrome. His love of art began as soon as he learnt how to hold a pencil and he has a BA (Hons) in Illustration.

Photo courtesy: SENSE 
The photo above was taken by Ian Treherne.
"... Ian Treherne also has Usher – he was born partially deaf and has limited vision. After discovering in his teens that his eyesight would gradually deteriorate, Ian picked up the camera and began to document those places that people walk past everyday without a second glance. Finding art in areas that most people take for granted, Ian’s work spans urban wastelands, city-scapes and scenes from nature."

See how we can take things for granted?

I really admire art by artists who are able to overcome challenges to present something(s) beautiful. I am issuing this as a challenge to NGRns to support deaf/blind/deafblind artists particularly in developing countries like NGR.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Part 2: Tuesday 6th December 2011

So many grumpy faces in vehicles left baking in the sun whilst waiting for the 'marginalised and long neglected persons of the society' attempt to make a mark in history. If these brains behind the grumpy faces could, for a few precious seconds, grasp that disability can happen to just anyone and I mean ANYONE.
Getting squashed in a road traffic accident on the pot-holed roads in this country with poor emergency ambulatory treatment is one fast way of getting a disability! Or how about getting a febrile illness and getting dosed up wiith ototoxic medications? That's another way of getting a disability. If this Bill gets passed into law after so much sweat, pain, deaths, torture that many PWDs suffer without any support from the rest of the society then the society had better be grateful that we fought for everyone!!!

Enough of the sermon (or is it rant?); let me take you back to what happened afterwards.

We attended the symposium which was held at the National Human Rights Commission. This event (and the rally) was jointly organised by JONAPWD (an umbrella association for PWDs in NGR) and International Republican Institute  (IRI). Some organisations were represented: USAID, National Human Rights Commission, ActionAid and a couple of others that yours truly's ears did not grab quickly enough.
Gov. Al-Makura and Senator Bode Olajumoke were on the high table with the former Chief Justice of NGR- Justice Uwais. Good speeches were made. In particular,in his solidarity speech, Gov. Al-Makura spoke about how policies were formulated with the assumption that all citizens were able-bodied and that there is ability in disability. He also shared how he faced discrimination after being hospitalised for almost a month in which he became profoundly deaf. So you see why I listen to him? Because he KNOWS what it is like! The state he governs- Nasarawa State is the state of reference. I saw proper buses that are specially-adapted (first ladies, please take note!!). I am truly glad for Nasarawa citizens!
I am now saying the next statement with a very solemn expression. *Justice Uwais' speech was loooooong!* And seriously peppered with issues of human rights and pushing for the Millenium Development Goals that NGR is struggling to achieve. Listening to him certainly drove the messages home that in order for any development goal to be achieved, passing the Bill would be expedient. Since I had never seen him speak before, I was slayed in a good way.
Media coverage was good but I did not see any NTA personnel *shrug* Says a lot for the government.

The general consensus among the PWDs back at the National Assembly Gate was that if the president doesn't assent to the Bill quickly enough, he should expect campers at the Official Residence. Not a bad idea at all. Bring your food, wrap up warmly and hopefully with the breaking of day.....?

And apologies for committing the cardinal offense of not taking pictures at both the rally and symposium. I,however, took 2 videos at the rally because my phone went dead- remember, I completely forgot that yesterday was the D-day. hope to upload the videos soon. AND I'll endeavour to source for some photos from other participants. Thanks in advance for your understanding and cooperation!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Tuesday 6th December 2011

...everybody was equal albeit for a few hours.

I looked forward to the rally last week and ...completely forgot about it this morning. Fortunately, my friend L texted me asking me where I was when she couldn't find me.*shock horror*
*Wheew* I got there quite alright and met cars queuing up for miles on both sides outside the National Assembly(NASS) gate. A sight cheered up my spirit when I got there. Loads of PDs in nice colored shirts(which youu'll see in the videos). Most who were mobility challenged were strategically positioned at the gates. Ha! Who would have the guts to roll down on wheelchair-bounds and those on makeshift manual trolleys. I was impressed that none of them were harassed by the police or any security detail. Harassment of Persons With Disabilities is usually the order of day in NGR. Rifle buttings on the head, barks and scowls. Not today! Instead some policemen were even fighting themselves and giving the rest of us the luxury to film them on our phones and cameras. *sigh*
My friend L went along with Gov Al-Makura, former Senator Bode Olajumoke (who tirelessly pushed for the passage of the Disability bill on the floor of NGR's upper House during his time as a Senator in the last dispensation) and a couple others into the 'hallows'. The rest of us were feeling chuffed to cause a bit of a commotion among the normally impatient and ruly Abuja drivers who wanted to enter or exit NASS.
The general mood among the rally participants was one of bated hope. People hoping against hope. Hope for wider recognition of their basic human rights. Hope that people would finally understand that it is NOT charity that PWDs want. Hope that people would finally get that disability is not a crime. Hope that others realise that they could get a disability tomorrow and that disability is not a choice. And of course, hope that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria would make a fist around a pen and sign the National Disability Bill indelibly into law. And thus make 22.5million PWDs (and their families and communities) happier. Is that too much to ask for?!!?
I had a lot of interesting conversations particularly with blind and mobility-challenged who came for the 'sensitisation' rally. I must say that the blind in particular inspire me. I was told a story of how a blind man actually and thoroughly enjoys a game of football by visualising ....from a radio commentary!
I think that the police had just a wee bit of humanity and became 'our friends' just for that time...

Please bear with me; I am quite tired right now and I promise to finish up later.

PS Finally I get to upload a video. Some notes of warnings...the video is more than 5minutes long- (BIG APOLOGY TO THOSE VIEWING IN PLACES WITH POOR INTERNET CONNECTION); the quality is uhmmm..... please bear with me! I WILL get better with time!!. If I can get hold of some photos, I'll put them out here.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Yesterday's result....

...was 4-0!!!! Well done to the guys for whooping Juilius Berger although they were told to take it easy on them right from the beginning! Well done once again!

PS I was reliably informed that Gov. Al-Makura did the kick-off.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Oh dear...

Right now as I write, the match between the National Deaf Football Association and Julius Berger would have kicked off by now. Apologies to all who personally invited me. I am cheering you all where I am.
The match is one of few activities to mark the IDPD 2011; hopefully, 8am on Tuesday will see us marching on a 'sensitisation' rally from Eagle Square. And we pray and hope this time around that the President would give his assent to pass the Disability Discrimination Bill into law. So if you are an Abuja resident or just happens to pass by/through Abuja, spare 40minutes of your time to lend your support. Each and everyone of us cannot live in a bubble all through life; conditions without any form of disability is usually temporary!

My friend shared an interesting article from the daily mail website:

Deaf man suing after being jailed for 25 days 'without a sign language interpreter

Authorities detained a deaf man for 25 days in jail without providing a sign-language interpreter, lawsuit has claimed.

Domestic assault charges were eventually dropped against Timothy Siaki by Adams County officials.

A lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court seeks unspecified damages and a finding that Adams County officials violated the Americans With Disabilities Act over his May 14, 2010, arrest and detention.
The Denver Post reports Siaki doesn’t read or write English or read lips, but he does communicate through American Sign Language. Deputies arrested Siaki after a noise complaint at a motel where Siaki and his fiancee were verbalizing sounds while arguing.

Deputies responding to the complaint knocked down the motel-room door and tackled Siaki after he failed to respond to their commands.

An Adams County sheriff’s spokesman says officials need to review the suit before commenting. Siaki’s fiancee, Kimberlee Moore, as well as Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition advocacy group are also plaintiffs in the suit.

Adams County Sheriff Doug Darr is named as the defendant.

'There were 25 days of his life that he had access to nothing — no information on why he was being held, no information about his case or what was going to happen to him,' said Kevin William, an attorney who filed the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit, Moore tried to tell the deputies that Siaki didn’t hurt her but couldn’t because she was not provided an interpreter or any aids.
The suit claims Adams County is violating the ADA by failing to provide an interpreter or auxiliary aids for deaf suspects during their arrest and booking process.

'To this day,' he said, 'we don’t know why he was held for 25 days.'

Williams told the paper the coalition recently settled a similar case against the Lakewood Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office that call for very specific policies for compliance with the ADA.

'They need policies and procedures for folks who are deaf,' Williams said. 'People just assume that a deaf person understands what they are saying.'

The link to the story is:

So you see what the ADA can do? In a country like NGR where Persons with Disabilities are treated like trash, just imagine the difference it would make!

Bring on the Disability Discrimination Bill!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Happy 'International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IPDP)'

As many would know, 3rd of December has been designated as the International Day of Persons with Disabilities by the United Nation. Since it falls on Saturday this year, certain activities have been postponed to next week in NGR.

Here is what the UN says re: this issue:

Persons with disabilities make up an estimated 15 per cent of the world’s population. Almost one-fifth of the estimated global total of persons living with disabilities, or between 110-190 million, encounter significant difficulties. Furthermore, a quarter of the global population is directly affected by disability, as care-givers or family members.

Persons with disabilities encounter many disadvantages in their societies and are often subjected to stigma and discrimination. They remain largely marginalized, disproportionately poorer, frequently unemployed and have higher rates of mortality. Furthermore, they are largely excluded from civil and political processes and are overwhelmingly voiceless in matters that affect them and their society.

Experience shows that when persons with disabilities are empowered to participate and lead the process of development, their entire community benefits, as their involvement creates opportunities for everyone – with or without a disability. Including persons with disabilities and their communities in developmental efforts is important to advance the development agenda.

Thus it is imperative that development efforts around the world include disability issues when determining policies, programmes, as well as allocating funds for developmental programmes and projects. Mainstreaming disability in development is a strategy for achieving equality for persons with disabilities.

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is both a human rights treaty and a development tool, provides an opportunity to strengthen developmental policies related to the implementation of internationally agreed development goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), thereby contributing to the realization of a “society for all” in the twenty-first century.

The General Assembly in its most recent resolution 65/186, seeks to convene a High-Level meeting on disability in 2012, with a view to strengthening efforts to ensure the inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of development efforts.

Sub-themes for commemorating the International Day of persons with disabilities in 2011

This year, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs requested the input of its partners and the general public for suggestions on a theme for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2011. Many responses were received from both, the UN system and civil society.

Now, for the first time, the Day will be commemorated under a general theme with supporting sub-themes to draw attention to key areas that would work in synergy to mainstream disability in all development processes.

Based on the main theme of IDPD 2011 “Together for a better world for all: Including persons with disabilities in development”, suggested sub-themes are:

Mainstreaming disability: including a disability perspective in all development processes (more information)
Gender: including women and girls with disabilities in development (more information)
Including children and youth with disabilities in development (more information)
Accessibility: removing barriers and promoting disability-inclusive development (more information)
Promoting data collection and statistics on disability (more information)
Include: Observance of the Day provides opportunities for participation by all stakeholders – Governments, the UN system, civil society and organizations of persons with disabilities – to focus on issues related to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in development, both as beneficiaries and agents.

Organize: Hold forums, public discussions and information campaigns in support of the themes of IDPD 2011 to find innovative ways and means by which persons with disabilities and their families can be further integrated into the development agenda.

Celebrate: Plan and organize performances everywhere to showcase - and celebrate - the contributions made by persons with disabilities as agents of change and development in the communities in which they live.

Take Action: A major focus of the Day is practical action to mainstream disability in all aspects of development, as well as to further the participation of persons with disabilities in social life and development on the basis of equality. Highlight progress and obstacles in implementing disability-sensitive policies, as well as promote public awareness of barriers to the full inclusion of persons with disabilities in their societies.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Switched at birth

First off, I'd like to appreciate my deaf friend L who improved my tv experience yesterday. She showed me how to get the subtitles activated on DSTV satellite. Unfortunately, it worked on about 5channels but STILL, it's better than nothing. And guess what I watched and enjoyed too?! 'Switched at birth'.

I picked the film because of the great interest I have in child psychology. Anyhow with the subtitles on, I was now getting on the roll! I practically sat straight up when the scene at which Daphne Vasquez was being introduced to her biological parents came on. With a huge smile on her face, she introduced herself with sign language and 'that' voice. Her mother (the woman who brought her up) interpreted for her. Her biological parents were shocked (and I was intrigued!).

I quickly texted my friend L to tune in but because she was not able to watch it, she asked me to record (thanks for the brainwave!).I was able to get snippets of it on my phone and I promise to upload them when the internet connection improves *sigh*

So the plot unfolds, the storyline was very believable and I could relate with Daphne in some ways. Daphne's biological parents were extremely wealthy; they naturally wanted her to leave the deaf school she was in and attend the school which Bay (the girl who switched with Daphne) goes to in order to get better opportunities in life. Daphne's mother had explained to the biological father about Daphne's being comfortable being deaf when he offered to pay for the cochlear implant so that she could be part of the hearing world. An interesting film and the Daphne character endears herself to me a lot with her great sense of humor! Oh and she got deaf from meningitis at 3years old.

Just read here that it is actually a tv series:

Interesting and I am not saving my breath to watch more (or all the) episodes of this series because of the power situation here.