Deaf Women Aloud Initiative(DWAI) with the support of Voice Nigeria on 12th and 13th of August 2020 in Abuja organized a two- day stakeholders meeting for the validation of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) Sign Language Glossary.
The Executive Director, DWAI, Mrs. Hellen Anurika Beyioku-Alase in her opening remark said that the meeting was designed to help the organization to review the finding of the glossary as well as validate the acceptance of the contents for publications.
Speaking further, she said that SRH Sign Language is a project funded by VOICE aimed at improving access to sexual and reproductive health rights of Deaf women in Nigeria. She added that the glossary contains simple SRH terms in two languages (English and Sign Language) and can be used as a reference guide designed to minimize the communication gap between healthcare providers and the Deaf community especially Deaf women who visit the hospitals often. She also said if the glossary is successfully concluded, history will not forget the stakeholders who are part of the sign language glossary design because they are pioneer contributors to a document like this and she informed that the book also has the support of FCT Health and Human Services.
She concluded by expressing her gratitude to their donor VOICE for considering their project worthy of extension and support.
The President of Deaf Women Association of Nigeria, Adedoyin Beyioku-Alase in her goodwill message said that there is no different between other women and Deaf women when it comes to the issue of SRH. She went further to appreciate DWAI for the initiative and also commended the Ministry of Health, FCT Health and Human services for their support. She appreciated specially the consultant responsible for the development of the Sign Language Glossary Dr. Ijeoma Nnodim a hearing impaired medical doctor.
Theresa Labara Jaku from IPAS while commending all those that put in efforts to develop the glossary, she said that it is a laudable project and it is coming at the right time because inclusion of people with disabilities especially the Deaf cannot be ignored. They must be carried along because language is critical in the interaction with persons with disabilities and SRH Sign Language is here to bridge that communication barrier.
Dr. Ruguyya Wamaiko, FCT-PHCB (Director, PHC), expressed how important the sign language glossary is to the health practitioners because it will enhance the interaction between the health workers and the Deaf, especially Deaf women who have suffered so much in the time past. They have right like every other person and issues about their SRH should be taken seriously. It will enhance the Deaf women communication with the health workers. This glossary will enhance the access to health care services of Deaf women and they will ensure that it gets everywhere when it is finally produced. She illustrated the pains Deaf women go through in the hospital when she explained that a Deaf woman may be in the hospital facility and her name would be called severally and she will not know and she would be there for the whole day without being attended to. She said that it is one reason the glossary is necessary and should be applauded and embraced by all health workers.
Azeez Bukola, AD, Policy, Health Care Human Services representing the Honourable Secretary of Public Health appreciated all the partners that have supported the glossary in one way or the other and wish that the glossary is concluded faster so that it can be deployed for use in all FCT hospitals. She demanded a comprehensive list of all the health workers trained in sign language for follow up and step down of the knowledge.
Rahana Bungow, Youth advocacy officer, Marie Stopes Nigeria said that it is true that all women face challenges in the hospital but the challenges of Deaf women are peculiar because of the communication barrier they face. That is why this initiative is incredible and she commended DWAI for the initiative. She went further to reaffirm the commitment of Marie Stopes towards strengthening the SRH of women with disabilities especially Deaf women and she assured DWAI of continued partnership.
Ike Stella Adaeze representing the Honourable Minister of Health said that communication with health workers is very important for a Deaf woman. Deaf women have right to family planning, child delivery etc, everything that concerns SRH. She said that they were not involved in the first process but the ED, DWAI Hellen met them in a programme and informed them about it. Now, they are part of the process and willing to contribute to the content of the glossary to meet the needs of Deaf women in Nigeria.
The Consultant Dr. Ijeoma Nnodim introduced the glossary, presented the findings and contents of the SRH sign language glossary to the participants. The glossary is a collection of health conditions with sign language drawings and pictures to explains them to the understanding of Deaf women.
The participants were divided into 4 groups to review the contents of the SRH glossary and they diligently reviewed and presented the pages in the book that were allocated to them.
TQM learnt that in time to come, the findings from the review would be harmonized by the Consultant and the participants will meet again for final validation before the document would be published and launched and DWAI will commence the training of the Deaf women on the SRH Sign Language Glossary.
The participants were drawn Federal Ministry of Healt, FCT Health and Human Services NACA, Ipas Nigeria, Maria Stope Nigeria, FCT Primary Health Board, Deaf Women Association of Nigeria, Abuja Association of Deaf and the media (The Qualitative Magazine TQM).