The media can be a vital instrument in raising awareness, countering stigma and misinformation. It can be a powerful force to change societal misconceptions and present persons with disabilities as individuals that are a part of human diversity. By increasing the awareness and understanding of disability issues and the diversity of persons with disabilities and their situations, the media can actively contribute to an effective and successful integration of persons with disabilities in all aspects of societal life. Indeed, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires States to raise awareness and combat stereotypes related to persons with disabilities, including by encouraging all media to portray persons with disabilities in a manner consistent with a respect for human rights.
It is from all above background that NUDOR in collaboration with ROJAPED organized 3 days workshop (from 23rd to 25th May 2018) at Hotel Five to Five with the theme ” The role of Media in State implementation of United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) in Rwanda”.
At least 26 different Media houses were represented in the training by its professional journalists where they gained more skills on UNCRPD, how to care persons with disabilities and how to write inclusive stories, removing bad languages to Pwds etc..
The workshop has officially opened by NUDOR representative (UMUTESI Rose)
During her speech she said ” There is still challenges in the state implementation of the UNCRPD that needs to be removed in order to allow persons with disabilities enjoy their rights in all levels of Rwanda society. For example at Hospitals there are not the persons that can provide services to the persons with hearing disability (Deaf persons) they did not trained to provide services to persons with disabilities… ”
Participants shared their previous experiences where they requested to organize other training especially on Sign Language so that they will be able to communicate with Deaf persons.
Of the media’s many roles, four can be singled out for emphasis. To begin with, media serve as a vehicle for the transmission of ideas, images, and information. Moreover, they are a communicative space for public discourse and of the discursive public. The media are also an arena of sign communication and sign communities. Finally, the media constitute a process of performing social identities and identifying social performances.
Most perceptions about disability are formed within households and in communities, but media communicate values, attitudes, and beliefs, as well as play a major socializing influence as carriers of information and education. They are also central in shaping events within households and in determining how the body is perceived by the general public. Moreover, media are key in identity formation and can contribute in stigma reduction and the enhancement of self-esteem among people with disabilities; while reflecting public attitudes regarding disability, they also shape them. To understand how media frame the way disability is constructed in society, we would need to look at media content (representations, stereotypes, presence and absence), media technologies (access and technological determinism), and media policies (language, technology, content, scheduling).
Media can reverse these perceptions through programming that looks at disability issues in a holistic manner and by linking disability with culture, poverty, governance, corruption, gender, and so on. They can provide models of people with disabilities who are bringing about changes in families and communities. At the national level, media can contribute to policies that are friendly to PWD.