Stakeholdets laud FG for Empowerment of the Blind on 2021 White Cane Day

Photo: In commemoration of the International White Cane Day 2021 on Friday, 15th October, 2021, the Director-General, Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC), Dr. John O. Asein leads members of the Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB) during an awareness walk from the Federal Secretariat to the National Centre for Women Development, Abuja.

By Our Reporter

The Federal Government has been commended for its legal and institutional empowerment for the blind and other disabled persons in Nigerian. 

Stakeholders in the blind community and the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) gave the commendations during the commemoration of the International White Cane Safety Day, 15 October 2021 at the National Women Development Centre. Abuja.

While calling on the National Assembly to fast-track the process for passage into law of the recently transmitted Executive Copyright Repeal Bill 2021, the President of the Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB), Mr. Ishiaku Adamu, lauded the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration for the positive measures being implemented to improve the lives of the blind community and other disabled persons in Nigeria. 

The NAB President, who expressed appreciation for the support of the NCC to the Association, pointed out that Government’s actions that have empowered the blind and disabled community included: the passage of the Persons with Disabilities Act 2016; establishment of the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities; Nigeria’s assent to the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled; and the ongoing effort to domesticate the Treaty in our national law by its inclusion in the Executive Copyright Bill now before the National Assembly.

Mr. Adamu called on the National Assembly to ensure quick passage of the new Executive Copyright Repeal Bill which, he said, “has portions that are favourable to the blind and the visually impaired”. He added: “The Copyright Bill takes care of us and we are praying that the National Assembly will give us a Christmas gift this year by passing the Bill into law so that we can enjoy the beneficial provisions of a new Copyright Act”.

The Director-General, NCC, Dr. John O. Asein, in his remarks, reassured the blind and the visually impaired persons of the Commission’s continued support to ensure their access to reading and learning materials in accessible formats.

He commended the NAB for its resilience and commitment to ensuring that the voice of the blind community in the country was heard and their needs met.

Dr. Asein noted that the supportive stance of the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari to the cause of the blind facilitated the passing into law of the Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities Act and the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty “which guarantees access to printed materials by the blind, visually impaired persons and those otherwise print disabled”.

The Director-General reiterated the Commission’s commitment to collaboration with stakeholders to ensure availability of reading materials in easily accessible formats to the blind. ‘’The NCC will continually do everything possible to add value to all that you have been asking for, and ensure that the blind have access to reading and learning materials,” he added.

According to him, “The NCC is working with relevant agencies and stakeholders to ensure that every blind child in the country is given a fair opportunity to learning and reading books. The Commission will always stand with NAB to ensure that every blind child in the country, from primary school up to university level, is able to read using accessible formats”. 

The Director-General pointed out that one dominant feature of the Executive Copyright Repeal Bill 2021 was the provision guaranteeing access to learning materials in accessible formats for the blind and visually impaired.

Also speaking at the event, the National President of the Joint National Associations of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD), Abdullahi Aliyu Usman, commended the Federal Government and the Commission for the support being accorded members of the Nigerian Association of the Blind and other persons with disabilities. He observed that the commitment shown over the years by the Director-General in the affairs of persons living with disabilities has impacted positively on their lives and well-being.

Other highlights of the events included a dancing competition and presentation of white cane gifts to some needy blind and visually impaired persons. The event was supported by the following organisations: the NCC; Disability Funds; UK Aid; Disability Rights Advocacy Funds; Christian Blind Mission (CBM); Action for Change and Empowerment (ACE); Inclusive Features; Sightsavers and the National Commission for Persons with Disabilities.

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