In order to ensure protection for persons with disability, the United State Consulate in Lagos and experts have advocated for improvement in implementation of the Nigerian Disability Act to cater for physically challenged persons need in the society.
They also recommended that media organisations in the country should give prominence to disability-inclusive reports and guide against use of discriminatory words against Persons Living With Disabilities (PLWD) in their medium.
These appeals were made during a disability-inclusive reporting training organized by Project Enable Africa in collaboration with the United States Consulate, Lagos to orientate the media executives on PLWD affairs.
During the event held recently via ZOOM which had editors and journalists from notable Television, radio, newspaper and online media houses in attendance, it was agreed that media plays a vital role in shaping the culture of any society aside from mirroring it.
Addressing participants, the Public Affairs Officer, the United States Consulate, Lagos, Mr. Stephen Ibelli, pointed out that the society is defined mainly by how it treats its poorest populace and those in need of help.
Ibelli, who dwelled on need for PLWD accessibility of public facilities as an integral part of promoting inclusion, further stated that the Nigerian Disability Act was a great base to build on, even as he argued that there was so much work to be done towards having an inclusive society.
The Executive Director, Centre for Citizens With Disabilities, David Anyaele, highlighted the need for accurate reportage of disability issues in the media and cautioned that use of wrong words could further increase discrimination and stereotypes against physically challenged persons.
Anyaele, while drawing attention of the media organisations to the Nigerian Disability Act and the need for implementation, urged media organisations to be mindful of the usage of words when reporting PLWD issues.
Earlier, the Executive Director of Project Enable Africa, Olusola Owonikoko, said: “the ultimate goal the project is to build the capacity of media organisations across Nigeria in disability-inclusive reporting.
“Ultimately, we will create a Media for Disability-inclusive Reporting Network (DIREN), comprising of traditional, print and new media practitioners who will champion disability mainstreaming in the media sector”.
He added that “DIREN will be instrumental to influencing a positive behaviouralchange towards the community of persons with disabilities in Nigeria”.
The Programs Manager, Lagos Television, Miss Folashade Salimonu, clamoured on the need for continuous education for reporters so they can rightly report disability issues in the mainstream media.
According to her media organisations needs to see the need for sign language interpreters for major TV news and programs.
The Chairman board of Punch Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Angela Emuwa, duly represented by Adesola Ayo-Aderele, urged Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) such as Project Enable Africa to consider the training of journalist on disability reporting a continuous exercise that will birth a change in reportage across the mainstream media.
According to her, you must be persistent with the media because through persistence, the media would be able to shape how people see persons with disabilities. Also, be conscious of the way advocacies are made on disability issues.
The media must always approach and portray persons with disabilities with dignity” Mr. Bolaji Adepegba, a development communication expert, elaborated on the need for the right thinking and mindset which will help to engage with Persons With Disability with dignity.
He added that drawing the attention of policymakers to issues on disability inclusion is key for development.