The new leadership changes that have swept the country since the emergence of the new government of President George Weah should also affect the leadership of the National Commission on Disabilities, said Abdullah Tani Konateh, secretary general of the Liberia National Association of the Deaf Incorporated (LNAD).
He told journalists that the sweeping changes that have brought in new faces in agencies of government, corporations and ministries would inject a new sense of direction for the new leaders to focus on their responsibilities.
Konateh, who has been an advocate for the deaf, runs the LNAD that comprises people who are hard of hearing as well sign language interpreters.
He said NDC is the Liberia government agency responsible to cater to the needs of the disabled that was established on November 22, 2005 by an act of the National Transitional Legislative Assembly of Liberia.
According to Konateh, who is popularly known as ‘Outgoing 3,’ there are many challenges that Liberians with disabilities are facing, such that the agency that seeks their welfare should have new people with fresh ideas to overcome them.
He said because of the lack of programs that could generate support for Liberians with disabilities, many disabled Liberians are roaming the streets begging for assistance.
He, therefore, appealed to President Weah to make new appointments of three individuals to occupy NCD positions, including Executive Director, Deputy Director for Administration and Deputy Director Technical Services.
Konateh said with a new leadership, it will rekindle hope among the disabled community since the leadership will listen and focus its attention on their needs.
Konateh, an advocate for the deaf community since 2012, revealed that the absence of ‘sign language’ at public gatherings also remains a major challenge to the deaf community.
“The government should provide the means to the community so that they can feel part of society in such disciplines as police, the army, banking and the various hospitals, colleges and universities,” he said.
Konateh said deaf people have the right to have sign language interpreters in colleges and universities and on various programs. “Government needs to create jobs for deaf people because we are entitled to have equal opportunities like other Liberians,” he said.
“The government needs to fix good roads for the disabled and blind to walk on, free of fear from dangerous areas, even offices, in Liberia. Liberians with disabilities want economic improvement in their lives. President Weah should see my request as a chance to make it up with a sector that previous governments have ignored for so long.”
He used the occasion to congratulate President Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor for their election to move the country forward.