A training session organised by Nuanua O Le Alofa (N.O.L.A.) on Tuesday provided media personnel with some key lessons on how to report on issues for people with disabilities.
Facilitated by lawyer Si Qi Wen who is also a volunteer for N.O.L.A.’s policy development, members of the media were given the do’s and do not’s in reporting certain stories involving people with disabilities.
“The meaning for this workshop is to share with the media about the language guidelines about reporting disability issues and programmes,” said N.O.L.A.’s Secretary of the Board, Faaolo Utumapu-Utailesolo.
“We feel that there is still some language that is used in reporting that reflects the old outdated medical moral of disabilities. For example language like crippled, handicap, and the blind.
“We are trying to avoid that sort of language and replace them with disability inclusive language that’s in line with the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities that had recently been signed by Samoa.
“The language we are trying to avoid is language that reflects exclusion. It actually makes people with disability feel like they are different from other people.”
But how often does this issue occur?
“It pops up every now and then,” Faaolo said.
“It pops up and yeah like I said to the others, there’s another improvement in regards to disability related stories but some words still pop up every now and then. That’s why we would just do a reminder for the media today.”
According to Faaolo, the workshop went well with participants eager to learn more.
“I was presenting the language guideline session and there were a lot of questions,” she said.
“I think there is a lot of interest and a lot of it is because there are still some grey areas in some parts especially in regards to quoting and what they do when they quote.
“They asked a lot of questions which I think is a good thing.”
Faaolo’s only plea is for the media to be more inclusive with their reporting.
“I just give a plea to the media editors to help us promote inclusiveness by using the appropriate disability related language,” she said.
“Just a reminder to the media; first and foremost, our disability comes after us being people.”