Voice of Disability Initiative (VDI) on Thursday 24th of June 2021 in Abuja engaged students with disabilities in school for the blind Jabi, in Mentorship session.

It was part of activities of VDI project on Inclusive Education supported by Disability Rights Fund (DRF).

The objective of the session was to address the challenges faced by students with disabilities, especially those with visual or hearing impairment, analyze the service available and them to achieve their fullest potentials.

Douglas Izuu, a Volunteer to VDI and a Deaf Student of University of Ilorin, in his presentation advised the student to be positive in the midst of challenges, look beyond their disability when their pursuit because nobody or any barrier can stand on their way when they are determined to achieve their goal. He urged them to have people that will influence them positively around them, that is keeping the right company. He concluded by advising them to have mentors and experts to talk to whenever they are faced with challenges.

Mr. Franklin Emmanuel, Program Officer at VDI educated the blind students on stereotypes in disability such as persons with disability are to be pitied and persons with disabilities are being viewed in the society like sick people, persons with some kind of diseases. He advised them to work hard and change that mindset because it is all about proving the public wrong in the perceptions and stereotypes about persons with disabilities.

Barr. Catherine Edeh. The Founder and CEO, VDI, in her presentation told the students that with determination, one can become what he or she set out to achieve disability or not disability. She assured them that disability cannot stop them from becoming what they want to become. Disability is a mindset; it doesn’t hinder any progress. All that one need is to have a positive mindset of himself or herself. She informed them that as blind people, they have sense of intuition and their distractions is limited so they have a lot of advantages in education.

“Don’t manage life, you are made for the best, put in more effort, have positive mindset”

She concluded her speech by informing them about Nigeria Disability Act and the National Commission of Persons with Disabilities and they are the ultimate beneficiaries of it because it came at a time that they are in school so the commission will make it possible for their rights and welfare are taken care of.

Some of the blind students such as names like Joshua Panksha, Ebuka Unuonoiwu, Hosea Jonah released vital points about their challenges in school which is basically lack of Braille materials and other materials that they need is learning. They also raised that issue of right violation when they asked the team if they can reach them when the rights are violated.

Agbo Christian Obiora, The ED, The Qualitative Magazine, a wheelchair user who accompanied the team to the school in his speech asked the students not to allow their disabilities to affect the success of their future. He urged them to prove those stereotyping against them wrong because they cannot afford to be like the way public have perceived them. He also urged them to think big about themselves and work towards their big dreams. He offered to make his platform available for their complains on rights violations, gave out his numbers and urged them not to hesitate to call whenever they witness right abuses.

Barr. Catherine Edeh in reacting to their questions promised to consult and assist them in provision of Braille materials, and she also gave out her number for complaints on right violations.

Alhaji Abubakar D. Mohammed Gomani Special Needs Unit, desk officer, FCT UBEB in his closing remark appreciated teachers of FCT school for the Blind Jabi, encouraged them to continue taking their education serious and do not relent in their education, he also told them that based on the questions some of the students asked, that he will take report back to the FCT UBEB to help them in some braille materials that will help them in their education. He informed that part of the problem in the issue of lack of Braille is because the 2021 budget of Federal Capital Territory Administration is yet to be approved.

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