By Fabian Ekeruche
Lagos, Jan. 21, 2021
The Nigerian Association for the Blind on Thursday called for the abolition of discriminatory policies in the employment of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs).
The association made the plea in a communique signed by Ms Oluwakemi Odusanya, its Administrative Officer and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
NAN reports that the communique was issued at the end of a one-day workshop for organisations of PWDs in Lagos.
According to the communique, the inclusion of PWDs is important to enable them contribute their quota in the workplace.
Alluding to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of PWDs, the communique described PWDs as “those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”
It said that the UN document urged states parties to recognize the rights of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others.
“This means that all forms of employment must be accorded to persons with disabilities, whether it is work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market and is inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities.
“Work must be free of discrimination of any kind. It is most important that work is provided to persons with disabilities in the private sector through appropriate policies, especially affirmative action.
“It is not very often that persons with disabilities may get work given through employment policies. This does not mean that affirmative action should be the rule, not the exception, ” the communique said.
The document appealed to governments at all levels to provide such incentives as necessary to employers of labour who are prepared to employ persons with disabilities to meet their reasonable accommodation needs.
It said that the human resources departments in most organisations played critical roles in ensuring that PWDs are employed.
“Thus, they (PWDs) must be allowed free movement in all aspects, to ensure that they are given the opportunity to actively engage in both high rise and low level of movement.
“We must be able to provide all persons with disabilities the ability to access all parts of the organisation whether through information and communications technologies.
“And all that will be necessary to ensure that they move about freely. The world of work and employment is a necessity for all persons with disabilities.
“Once being involved in the education system, it would be important to be involved in doing something, whether through public or private sector employment or being given the opportunity to be gainfully employed,” the communique said.
It urges employers of labour to be more sensitive to the moral obligation to PWDs.
It noted that everyone suffers one form of disability or another in one’s lifetime, adding that empathic understanding was required from everyone.
While affirming that there was ability in disability, the communique said that no one should be left behind.
“Government should ensure that more persons with disabilities are gainfully employed.
“Government/Employers of Labour should prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability.
“Employment policies should be person-centered, not disability-centered.
“If development is going to be achieveable, government and religious organisations should not leave anyone behind,” the communique said.