***Wants universities to churn out graduate experts in accessibility

As the drive for National Accessibility standard Code reaches its crescendo, steps have been taken for it to also be infused into the curriculum for tertiary institutions of learning, the Executive Secretary National Commission for Persons with Disability (NCPWD, James Lalu has disclosed.

Lalu made the disclosure, when the Commission and other stakeholders converged in Abuja on Wednesday to validate the National Accessibility Standard Code to make facilities disability compliant.

Henceforth, he said, the commission would want to see universities churn out graduate experts in accessibility, so that they could also bring their expertise to bear in building of facilities.
Such experts he said would be readily available to offer consultancy services on acceptable standards for accessibility in public facilities

He cautioned that as soon as the transitory period elapses, NCPWD will begin the prosecution of owners of public buildings without accessibility facilities for persons with disabilities.

Lalu also indicated that the document would serve as a guide to ensure that the facilities such as ramps and others are made accessible for persons with disabilities.

The executive secretary said commission’s partnership with the Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies will come up with a taskforce that will monitor and enforce compliance for accessibility of buildings across Nigeria.

He therefore, called on all owners of buildings to brace up because “as soon as we print the document and distribute them, there would be no more excuses as compliance with the law will become mandatory,” he said.

“Organizations like TETFUND and other similar agencies have already indicated interest to adopt the National Accessibility Standards.”
Hence, he said there would be no room for excuses. “If you have a facility that is not disability friendly, then get ready to start paying fines.”

“We are ready to ensure high level of compliance in all primary schools in the country.
He said the commitment of the commission to the implementation of the National Accessibility Standard Code document is total.
A disability-inclusion and development specialist, Mr. Rasak Adekoya who represented the Country Director Sightsavers International (SSI) said that accessibility is more than ramps, there are other things like colours and lighting in building for persons with albinism, sizes of the doors, height of the tables and many others.

He stated that the document is designed to create more accessible society for persons with disabilities and enhance their productivity.

Adekoya said working with the Commission on the Accessibility Standard Code was something of joy and pride to his organisation.

“We hope that at the end of the two days, we will have a better document than what the committee compiled earlier,” he said.
The founder and CEO of The Albino Foundation(TAF), Mr Jake Epelle,
in his goodwill message commended the commission for its giant strides saying that the document after validation should be adopted by all relevant agencies because accessibility is very important for persons with disabilities.

The Vice President of Joint National Association of Persons with Disabilities (JONAPWD) Hon. Adamu Shaibu, who represented the National President in his goodwill message indicated that accessibility is very important for persons with disabilities because it enhances their opportunities.
The commission and Sightsavers organized the validation meeting in Abuja to finalize work on the National Accessibility Standards before it would be presented to the Executive Council for approval.
Sightsavers is an international non-governmental organisation that works with partners in developing countries to treat and prevent avoidable blindness, and promote equality for people with visual impairments and other disabilities


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