The President of Nigeria Association of the Blind (NAB), Mr Stanley Onyebuchi, has called on authors, publishers and relevant stakeholders to always carry along visually impaired people in their works.

Onyebuchi made the call at the ‘Awareness Seminar on Equal Access to Educational and Digital Materials for the Visually Impaired Persons in Abuja.

The seminar was sponsored by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in partnership with NAB.

“This seminar is important to us because, most times, authors and publishers don’t consider us that are print-disable in their works. We are preaching for inclusive society.

“There is no way we can have an inclusive society without those of us who are print-disable being carried along; and that is why our partner WIPO is sponsoring this project.

“This is the second phase of it. The first phase covered three geopolitical zones of South-West, South-South and North-West. And this time, we are covering the North-Central, North-East and South-East in the second phase.

“I want to use this opportunity to call on all Ministries, Departments, Agencies and other relevant stakeholders to join in this important campaign.

“We have a national disability law in this country which gives rights to Persons With Disabilities and it will not be fair that the print-disable are left behind.

“We have academia amongst us. We want to read more, that is why we want all publishers and authors to carry us along; to put their works into an accessible format,” Onyebuchi said.

In his address, the Chairman Committee on Education of NAB, Mr Ibrahim Abdulkareem, said the seminar was to focus on ensuring that all publications were in accessible format for the benefit of the blind.

Abdulkareem added that the primary purpose of the seminar was to enlighten members about the Marrakech Treaty, organised by WIPO in Morocco.

He recalled that member countries, including Nigeria, signed a treaty to allow for easy access to books and other publications in braille and other digital format for the blind.

“On the other hand, NAB under Onyebuchi, has worked round the clock to see that a similar seminar is held in Abuja to appeal to authors, publishers and disability commission to ensure that all publications are accessible by persons with visual impairment.

“It is my hope that this session will get us on a road map toward realising our aims and objectives to live in comparison with able body class of people,” Abdulkareem said.

Meanwhile, Malam Mohammed Isa, a presidential aide, commended NAB and WIPO, calling on other stakeholders to.join hands with NAB to push the campaign further.

He promised that his office was always open for collaboration and support.

Guest Speaker at the occasion, Dr Kris Nwanoro, called for modern assistive devices to help the visually impaired to explore their potentials and reach the zenith of their chosen career.

Nwanoro, a former Nigerian High Commissioner to India, called on National Commission for Persons with Disabilities to intensify efforts to ensure that persons with visual impairment are provided with assistive devices.

“We need full awareness on technological access to information to the blind. There are different devices that such people could be assisted with,” he said.

In their goodwill messages, officials from the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Nigerian Copyright Commission and the Ministry of Education lauded the effort of NAB.

They pledged to always provide support for persons with visual impairments. (NAN)

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