Demola Adeleke is visually impaired but that did not stop him from nearly graduating with a First Class honours in the Department of Mass Communications at the University of Nigeria Nnsuka (UNN). Following the UNN undergraduate convocation held on Friday, 30th November, 2018, he graduated with a 4.44 Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA). In this interview with ABDUSSALAM AMOO, he highlights the challenges of studying in an environment that does not fully accommodate the visually impaired.
Kindly introduce yourself
My name is Demola Adeleke. I hail from, and reside in Ibadan, Oyo State. I studied Mass Communication at the University of Nigeria, Nnsuka. I graduated as one of the best in the department. I am a Muslim by birth until I converted to Christianity recently. My dad is a Muslim but my mother isn’t. I was born on 18th April, 1993 and that makes me 25 years old.
Why did you choose UNN despite the distance from Ibadan?
I just chose to study far from home. I wanted to experience life away from home. I used to feel that my folks were being too protective of me and wanted to know how it feels to not have anyone around you. That’s why I chose UNN instead of UI or other schools close.
My mum was not in support of that but I convinced her at the time. After filling the forms and writing (the examinations), I got admitted (into the UNN).
Most of the times, I get discouraged at the way some of the lecturers treat the visually impaired. It is not fair at all.
How was school life at the UNN?
It’s not been very easy all through. It’s not hard either. I have friends around me who come, pick me up to classes and keep me informed. They share materials with me after they finish lectures.
The challenge however is that I can’t run the same schedule with my colleagues all the time. There are times when they go to school while I stay in the hostel and need to send someone on errands.
At times, I need to go to the entrance of the hostel to seek someone’s help to take me to my destination. I may spend 20 to 30 minutes waiting.
One other challenge that really bothered me the most is people’s perception about the visually impaired. There are some students that would just scorn you because you are blind. Also, some of the lecturers in my department see you as if you are less of a human when they know that you are blind.
Most of the times, I get discouraged at the way some of the lecturers treat the visually impaired. It is not fair at all. The Department of Mass Communication itself does not have facilities that could make learning comfortable for the visually impaired. I guess it’s the same in many Nigerian universities too. So, it was never easy for me. I had to seek for someone who was always recording her notes to be updated. For my textbooks, I had to scan them and make use of some software that would have them read through my laptop. You know the computer reading cannot be compared to human reading.
How were you able to cope with all these and come up with a 4.44?
It wasn’t very easy for my parents too. I’m not from a rich background. We are not poor either. First, I considered that there many courses to cover and I know where I am going.
Also, I am visually impaired person. I don’t think there was any other place I can channel my energy to other than my education. I can’t go on the streets and join others to do other things even if I wanted to do so.
I studied hard and made sure I attended lectures. I could count the number of times I missed classes, no matter how inconvenient it seemed to get to class. I also don’t joke with my assignments. I just don’t want to live an ordinary life.
What’s your message for people with physical disabilities out there?
They should be focused. Education is going to take them to greater heights. It’s not like I did something out of the ordinary. There are so many with their sights that have had good grades. But because I managed to have something that is a little high, people feel I should be celebrated.
What I’m trying to say is that, as a disabled person, try to heighten your goals and reach them. It’s going to really work for you.
What are your plans for the future?
I would go back to Ibadan and leave things in the hands of God.