Hope rises for ABU’s blind stu­dents

Daily Trust - - EDUCATION - From Shafaatu Abubakar, ABU

Haruna Adamu and Us­man Ahmed are 200 level blind stu­dents in the de­part­ments of In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies and Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Ah­madu Bello Univer­sity (ABU), Zaria, re­spec­tively. They out­lined their lim­i­ta­tions and vi­sions in this in­ter­view. Haruna Adamu What was your ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence in spe­cial schools?

I was born with com­plete vi­sion loss be­cause I have no cornea. My par­ents took me to Ah­madu Bello Univer­sity Teach­ing Hos­pi­tal in Kaduna when I was an in­fant where they were told the vi­sion prob­lem could not be cor­rected. I at­tended spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion schools in Kaduna where I learnt how to read and write in Braille be­fore I com­pleted my pri­mary school ed­u­ca­tion in 2006. I en­rolled into Gov­ern­ment Sec­ondary Kwali in Abuja and later Nu­rulBayan In­ter­na­tional Academy where I ob­tained my SSCE.

I ap­plied and got ad­mis­sion to study In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies in ABU Zaria in 2014 and I am now in 200 Level.

How do you cope with the aca­demic stress in the univer­sity?

I use my Braille to read and write but I use a type­writer to write all my an­swers dur­ing ex­ams. I haven’t got much dif­fi­culty in my aca­demic ac­tiv­i­ties and I work hard to over­come the chal­lenges.

How well do you in­ter­act with your lec­tur­ers and course mates?

I re­late well with my lec­tur­ers, all my lec­tur­ers re­gard me as a spe­cial stu­dent; they at­tend to me when­ever I need as­sis­tance. The stu­dents also help me to copy notes, they dic­tate and I write the notes in Braille.

Why did you In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies?

choose

I chose In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies be­cause I want to re­late with peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties in dif­fer­ent coun­tries and also to as­sist the less priv­i­leged. I want to know of the in­ter­re­la­tion­ships among peo­ple as they func­tion in dif­fer­ent cul­tural, eco­nomic, and po­lit­i­cal set­tings. My am­bi­tion is to be­come a for­eign af­fairs of­fi­cer or Nige­ria’s am­bas­sador in other coun­tries.

I would like to call on the peo­ple to make ef­fort about rais­ing aware­ness on the need to as­sist peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties. There is the need for so­ci­ety to come to the aid of poor chil­dren by send­ing them to school and giv­ing them fi­nan­cial sup­port.

Do you get any form of sup­port from the peo­ple?

I get a lot of help in the univer­sity es­pe­cially from the lec­tur­ers but we need the univer­sity to fully sup­port stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties and make learn­ing ma­te­ri­als avail­able to us. It is not easy for me to be in the aca­demic sys­tem, I need spe­cial train­ing and Braille text books and ac­cess to the in­ter­net to make re­searches, and this is only achiev­able with these equip­ment. There are sev­eral equip­ment that can be use­ful to us, like the Braille printer, which prints Braille codes and we also need Braille scan­ners among many oth­ers.

The lec­tur­ers can­not read Braille codes, so I use an or­di­nary type­writer, I can type but I can­not read what I typed. Us­man Ahmed I am blind in both eyes and my blind­ness was caused by menin­gi­tis in­fec­tion I had be­tween the ages of five and six years. I got ad­mis­sion into the depart­ment of Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tion here af­ter my sec­ondary school and I am happy to be in 200 Level.

The re­la­tion­ship with my lec­tur­ers and the stu­dents is very friendly; they are al­ways will­ing to as­sist. I was the only vis­ually inspired stu­dent in my sec­ondary school and my col­leagues re­ally as­sisted me. There are a lot of chal­lenges in the univer­sity; it is not easy for a blind per­son to be among nor­mal stu­dents in terms of go­ing to lec­ture halls, copy­ing notes but my friends are help­ful.

How did you choose jour­nal­ism as a field of study?

It is nor­mal for ev­ery per­son to lis­ten to ra­dio; I love lis­ten­ing to the news, lots of en­ter­tain­ment and ed­u­ca­tional pro­grammes. I have been like that from my child hood and there was a time I saved my pocket money to buy a world ra­dio re­ceiver and that inspired me to study Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the univer­sity. I want to be a broad­caster be­cause I love broad­cast­ing; I want to work with a ra­dio or TV sta­tion. Read­ing is my hobby.

I study with the aid of Braille but dur­ing ex­ams I use type­writ­ers. I learned to type when I was in the pri­mary school.

I also learned to op­er­ate a desk­top through what was called ‘as­sis­tive tech­nol­ogy’ and it has to do with how blind peo­ple can ac­cess the new and ad­vanced tech­no­log­i­cal de­vices. In the univer­sity, the MTN e-con­nect li­brary or­ga­nized and spon­sored a two-week work­shop for stu­dents and I par­tic­i­pated. Four of the lap­tops in the li­brary have been pro­grammed so that we can ac­cess the in­ter­net when­ever we go there.

Lack of study ma­te­ri­als and fi­nan­cial sup­port are the ma­jor prob­lems fac­ing stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties in the coun­try. Most of our in­sti­tu­tions lack fa­cil­i­ties that can en­hance read­ing and re­search­ing; I re­ally want to en­gage in re­search but be­cause we lack equip­ment, I find it dif­fi­cult to ac­com­plish my aim.

How would you ad­vise peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties?

They have to be pro­duc­tive and de­ter­mined to achieve their goals. They should take part in all ac­tiv­i­ties that will con­trib­ute to the growth of this coun­try.

Shafaatu Abubakar, wrote from Dept. of Mass Com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Haruna Adamu

Us­man Ahmed

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