There is a lot that can be done with little financial resources, especially in the internet age, to help promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the media. Here are some tips from the ground.
– start locally
– start a group on social media, invite everyone interested in the subject you know and ask them to invite others.- start a blog - establish contact with other disabilities groups- recruit collaborators – they can send you stories of their interest area or make their own, describing an event or telling about a school that refused to enroll a student, for example- contact other marginalized groups activists and join forces with them- make a newsletter – start monthly or weekly
– with news on disability issues- listen to your readers – answer their questions, refer them to services, take their opinion on preferred subjects
REACHING OUT TO THE PRESS – Inducing disability- make alliances with the press – start by getting their emails and send them press releases, newsletters and stories suggestions according to the vehicles profile.
– celebrate special days, like International Day of Disability (Dec 3), Autism Awareness Day (April 2), World Down Syndrome Day (March 21)… – journalists love it. It gives them a motive, an excuse to speak about a subject.
– don’t forget to encourage and praise – when they do a story on disability, always write to thank them for raising the issue, even if it was tackled in an unappropriated way. Always praise first, and then, with diplomacy, suggest what they could make different next time- visit newsrooms, journalism schools. Educate about the newest terminology (people’s first language) and ways to tackle stories (avoiding pity, super hero, charity, etc).- write a simple guide on how to talk about disabilities for journalists. Send them to newsrooms and hand it out to reporters every time you see one. Coach them on how to interview a person with intellectual disability, for example (giving more time, simple questions, etc)
– promote prizes and honors for journalists that cover disabilities issues appropriately.
Educating the Media
EDUCATING THE MEDIA – Including disability
– suggest that reporters talk and ask questions directly to the persons with disabilities, not their parents, companions or specialists- tell them when writing a story on education, for example, to include a student with disability without mentioning anything about special education, in a matter of fact way- suggest a list of persons with disabilities that specialize in other subjects to be interviewed on different topics for stories, debates, talk shows- find people who can introduce you to people on TV channels and lobby for films, soaps and documentaries with characters with disabilities
Educating Advertising Agencies
EDUCATING ADVERTISING AGENCIES
– talk about inclusive publicity.
Tell them other countries are already doing it (Brazil)
(Banco do Brasil)
Educating the Government
EDUCATING THE GOVERNMENT
– speak to government officials about inclusive ads. Mention Article 8 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities about “Awareness Raising”, if your country has ratified the treaty. If it haven’t yet, get it ratified!
– talk to politicians, ask for their help to pass legislation to promote inclusive media- get people with disabilities and those related to them with an inclusive mind elected
EDUCATING TV CHANNELS
– ask for a meeting with directors – it’s always easier to pair up with stronger organizations or politicians to get that accomplished
– give example of other countries (like Brazil) that are very successfully using soap operas and docu-dramas to raise social related issues – disability, accessibility, inclusive education
– offer to brief authors and producers, and to do consulting for them free of charge for the length of the show.
– try to get them to use actors with disabilities, not non-disabled actors to play parts of characters with disabilities
– brief actors that are going to play the role of character with disability on the importance of CRPD and avoiding guilty, pity and heroism stories. Explain them about their symbolic responsibility as agents for change.
– Pick your battles. You won’t win all of them, but don’t cut the connection. Although we wish we could, we can’t go from 1 to 100 at the first try. Every step forward is important and counts, however small.
a new Generation
BUILDING A NEW GENERATION
– Talk to kids’ shows producers. Ask them to have kids with disabilities included with non-disabled peers on stage programs (Sesame Street), as characters in cartoons (Little Bill), etc.