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Nigerian Language of the Deaf for Communication & Education

Posted in News Update

DeafThe Britain-Nigeria Educational Trust is pleased to announce it has awarded a grant of £3,825 to the Special Needs Education & Welfare Foundation to fund the cost of basic equipment needed for their innovative project that will develop communications for the many deaf children and adults in Nigeria.

Working in collaboration with the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (www.dcal.ucl.ac.uk) at University College London and the University of Calabar in Nigeria the aim is to support the development of communication for the 17million deaf children and adults in Nigeria, who are currently excluded from school and integration into the wider Nigerian society.

Although there are 400 different spoken languages and hundreds of dialects in Nigeria, there is no distinctive Nigerian sign language for the deaf, which could help overcome this communication barrier both in education and adult society. With over 80% of deaf school age children out of school, literacy below 5% and an employment level of less than 4%, the circle of poverty among the deaf continues.

Co-ordinated by Dr Paulina Ajavon, who has several publications noteably A Sign Language in Nigeria, this project seeks to empower deaf people and change this situation by nurturing the emergence of a distinctive Nigerian sign language, with a role in education and adult society, which in turn will enhance adult communication and education with the deaf. This will be achieved by involving deaf Nigerians as active participants and collaborators in the project, which aims to build on the existing communications systems with a view to incorporating them into deaf education in Nigeria.

The Foundation has a Board of Trustees chaired by Archbishop Joseph E Ukpo and the first phase of this project, which cuts across ethnic, cultural and linguist backgrounds, has a target completion date by February 2018 by when the material produced will be a support for educators throughout Nigeria, as well as for families and deaf people themselves. Ultimately the project will strengthen the study and development of indigenous languages of the deaf in Africa and enable researches in Nigeria to undertake a leadership role in West Africa, providing support for developments elsewhere in the region.