Covid-19 Community Outreach

COVID-19 awareness Session with the Deaf

COVID-19 awareness Session with the Deaf

The challenge: COVID-19 creates barriers for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing as People with disabilities disregarded in COVID-19 information awareness campaigns

There is growing concern that information awareness campaign messages about COVID-19 are on platforms and formats that persons with disabilities have limited access to. While the Corona virus continues to ravage the world, there is growing concern that critical messages about the disease that are disseminated by health authorities, telecom companies, and broadcasters are not reaching Deaf and Hard of Hearing people.

In Nigeria, sections 24 and 25 of the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) require public hospitals and the government to ensure that persons with disabilities are given special considerations, including provision of special communication during situations of risk, emergencies (such as Covid-19) and other natural causes.

In the midst of a fast-moving outbreak, officials in developed countries use technology to get health information to the deaf and those with hearing loss, but communication gaps remain. What then can be said of developing countries in Africa? Majority of the Deaf in Rivers State are completely cut off from information about COVID-19 pandemic. In the wake of declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic, the WHO issued guidelines to mitigate the impact of the outbreak on persons with disabilities. It called upon governments to take action to ensure that persons with disabilities are not left behind in the fight against COVID-19.

visiting the Deaf at workshop for COVID-19 safety sensitization

visiting the Deaf at workshop for COVID-19 safety sensitization

We are doing what we can: Our team has been reaching out to various Deaf persons in under-served communities in Rivers State for sensitization and orientation on Corona virus safety guidelines and tips. This orientation takes place both in private homes and at places of work. While it has become necessary to restrict movement, the Deaf are being encouraged to maximize the period for some soft skill acquisition online. This will help minimize street begging.

We don’t know who invented the sign for COVID-19 in American Sign Language. But at D-Ability Initiative, we want Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in Nigeria, starting from Rivers State, to know what it means.  And we want them to know what they need to do to keep their themselves and their families safe during the outbreak. The challenge in the deaf community is with their access to information. People who can hear get incidental knowledge from the television, radio or conversation. Not so for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people.

 

 

Demonstrating hand washing under running water.

Demonstrating hand washing under running water.

Getting information to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people is challenging, especially in a period of pandemic when information is not only constantly changing but movements are also restricted.  But all the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people need to know and understand health information surrounding the outbreak. In a crisis where information on hand washing and social distancing is the main line of defense, this outreach takes on a new urgency.

Gratitude: We sincerely appreciate all those who have contributed and those who will contribute to foster this great project. We greatly value you. We love you dearly. Thank you.

To encourage safety consciousness, we gave out nose masks and hand sanitizers to each person. So far, 56 Deaf persons reached.

D-Ability Rural Outreach (DARO)

Nwala's family demonstrate with DARO looks like

The challenge: Understanding is everything. The importance of understanding the peculiar needs of people with hearing disability cannot be overemphasized. Because of linguistic differences many Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons in Nigeria and other parts of Africa experience marginalization within the circle in which they are supposed to find security- their families. Again many families with Deaf and Hard of Hearing children also stigmatize them by presuming that Deafness is synonymous with inability to learn. They mistake disability for incapability. The potentials of many Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons have been cut short by their families who clip their wings out of misguided concerns for their disability and safety.

Our solution: in our effort to reach the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, promote inclusion, unite families with Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons, as well as support them, we launched this on-going project: the D-Ability Rural Outreach (DARO) Project. This Project provides the opportunity for the hearing family members to understand Deafness and other issues that affect their Deaf and Hard of Hearing family members.

Reaching out to rural areas in search of the families of Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons is a heavy task. It has taken a lot of sacrifices so far and will still do.

Our impact: 38 the Deaf and Hard of Hearing people’s families impacted. Viewpoints about the Deaf are changing, starting from the family circle!

Appreciation: We are grateful to the various families of the Deaf we have so far visited.  They have been friendly. We sincerely thank the Nwala’s family for their support. It’s been awesome. We appreciate our volunteers and supporters. This project is worth every effort.  We are encouraged. We want to do more.

D-Ability MentorTeens Project

 D-Ability MentorTeens Project session in progress

 

D-Ability  MentorTeens Project  was initiated to help address the many challenges the teenagers are facing. There are many issues affecting teenagers especially in developing countries. These include reproductive health, HIV prevention and care, psychoactive substance abuse, and many others. Reproductive health education is a key strategy for promoting sexual safety among teenagers. The challenge is that there are millions of teens who are uninformed. Many become victims of sexual exploitation and suffer the attendant consequences.

Substance abuse, on the other hand,  refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drug. The rate of psychoactive substance abuse among teenager in and out of high school in Nigeria is alarming. It can only be understood through direct interaction with the teens by trusted mentors. It is now a major Public Health challenge all over the world, particularly in developing countries. Complications of substance abuse by young people are grave including: increased odds of engaging in risky sexual behaviour, personality disorders, sexual violence, criminal tendencies and drug dependence among others.  Many factors have been identified to be responsible for drug abuse among young people, these include: experimental curiosity, peer pressure, poor socio-economic condition at homes and the need for extra energy for daily activities among others. While many studies have been conducted in Nigeria on substance abuse, the menace of this social anomaly has remained unabated particularly among the youths.

The burden of substance abuse is still high among students who had not received any formal teachings on the subject. Awareness campaigns on dangers associated with substance abuse should be intensified in various secondary schools in Nigeria. It is necessary that social media and other channels of communication could be positively engaged in reaching the youths on this subject.

Launched in 2018, this Project has been changing the future of hundreds of teens for better. It has been leading them in the path to greatness in areas such as: reproductive health education; HIV/AIDS prevention and care; psychoactive substance abuse; and many more. It is also designed to equip teens to become mentors to their peers, spreading the word and saving lives.  We have established small hubs known as D-Ability MentorTeens’ Club  in 5 secondary/high schools, reaching over 1050 teens in Rivers State, Nigeria.  We are catching them young!