US, Project Enable Africa canvass disability inclusion in media reporting
United States Consulate, Lagos, and Project Enable Africa have called for disability inclusion in media reporting; saying disabilities rights are human rights and should be given attention in journalism.
While speaking at the closing ceremony of the Media Hackaton competition, US Consulate Public Affairs Officer, Stephen Ibelli, stated that the inclusion of persons living with disability in the media could help strengthen fundamental human rights and contribute to development.
He maintained that the media could be a vital instrument in raising awareness, countering stigma and misinformation, and serve as a powerful force to change societal misconceptions and present persons with disabilities as individuals that are a part of human diversity.
Executive Director, Project Enable Africa, Olusola Owonikoko, hinted that with the support of the US Consulate, over 70 journalists from different media organisations have been trained to help journalists see reason or the need for disability inclusion in reporting.
He said: “We will be working more with the cartoonists to produce more disabilities inclusive cartoons and that way we can get the message to children, schools, and those who read cartoons. They would see disabled characters there and that begins to form how their minds are shaped and how they see persons with disabilities.
“This project is about promoting a positive behavioural change on disability issues in the society and community. We are promoting and driving a cultural change in the society and this is because we want a society that is inclusive.”
He added that with the help of the media, and accurate and balanced portrayal of disability should be seen as a part of everyday life. “The media can play an important role in presenting disability issues in a way that could dispel negative stereotypes and promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.”
On his part, programmes director, Development Communication Network, Akin Jimoh, said, “we can change the dynamics. There are people who are physically challenged who are achieving great things and there is a need for them to also be in the news, I believe this will serve as inclusiveness.”