Hope rises for ABU’s blind students
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?
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.