The president of PROMOAFRICA, Mr. Seth Amoah Kwaku Addi, has advised African journalists with interest in reporting on issues concerning Persons with Disabilities to seek stories about explaining symptoms of disability instead of only reporting on efforts to diagnose its cause.
Speaking at the official launching ceremony of the training manual for African journalists on the PROTOCOL TO THE AFRICAN CHARTER ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES IN AFRICA, under the theme, “THINK ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT NOT PHYSICAL DEFORMITY,” he admonished journalists not to only quotes disability related stories from social service providers, academics and politicians and leave out victims of the disabilities because the mantra in the disability community is, “nothing about us, without us.
According to him, many policies, including the African Disability Charter, cover a wide range of disabilities but in practice the people with disabilities are often left out during their implementation.
Mr. Seth Addi advised journalists to beware of language that implies negativity on persons with disabilities when reporting or writing articles and features, for example “wheelchair bound” or “suffers from.
“The most basic rule is to use people first language. For example, “people with disabilities,” not “the disabled”.
Beware of accommodations: When setting up an interview, be sure to ask if there are any accommodations you might need to provide. Do you need to arrange for a translator? Will the space you are meeting be accessible? You may need to allow extra time for the interview if the person uses a translator or has slow speech.
Communication: If someone uses a translator, talk to them, not the translator. Do not talk about them in the third person. If someone has a speech impediment, never pretend to understand what they said if you don’t. It may feel uncomfortable to ask someone to repeat themselves, but your most important responsibility is to hear what the person has to say.
Be aware of tropes and stereotypes: Common tropes include a “heroic person overcoming a disability” or a “violent person with mental illness.” When you find yourself telling a story with this narrative, stop and check yourself to see if that is really what it is about. Ask yourself if there is more nuance you can include.
PROMOAFRICA officially launched the Journalists training manual on 23rd January 2018 in Accra and streamed live on our website www.promoafrica.blogsport.com, www.ghananewsonline.com, www.todayghananews.com and other media partners.
The official launch was done by Honorable Jeff T Kavianu, former Member of Parliament for Upper Manya constituency and some major stakeholders.
PROMOAFRICA has commenced a project on the PROTOCOL TO THE AFRICAN CHARTER ON HUMAN AND PEOPLES’ RIGHTS ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES IN AFRICA to reach out to policy makers, civil society organizations, opinion leaders, traditional and religious leaders and the media on the importance of the Charter.
The Journalists training manual can now be accessed on the organisation’s website for free.