By Lawrence Chitumba
The media has been called upon to play an important role in influencing public opinion and attitudes in order to correct misconceptions about disability.
Speaking during an engagement meeting with journalists in Bindura last week, Development Aid from People to People project coordinator Mr Petros Muzuva said there is need for the media to consider the kind of words they use when portraying people living with disabilities.
This follows the societal discourse which looks down upon people living with disability who are portrayed as needing charity and inferior to other human beings as reflected in the political, economic, social and cultural spheres.
“The media should play an important role in influencing public opinion and attitudes in order to correct misconceptions about disability and move away from referring to disabled people as victims and objects of pity and who are unable to do things,” he said.
“Journalists should help promote a more inclusive and tolerant society for the people living with disability who constitute 15 percent of the population, but face discrimination and exclusion from basic services such as health, education, training and employment.
“The training of journalists from Mashonaland Central and West is being done so that we share the experiences of those living with disabilities so that when they report they know what kind of words they can use to portray this group of people. Journalists have a role to play to show where these people are and what they aim to do in society,” he added.
A Bindura resident who uses a wheelchair, Mr Paul Danger, bemoaned the lack of involvement of people living with disability in infrastructure development by both Government and local authorities and added that he was hopeful that the media will help in articulating their issues.