Journalists sensitised to covering issues on disability  
Some of the media workers participating in a diversity activity during the IFES Disability Rights Workshop (Elvin Croker photo)
Some of the media workers participating in a diversity activity during the IFES Disability Rights Workshop (Elvin Croker photo)

JOURNALISTS were on Saturday sensitised to the rights of persons with disability, access, inclusion and sensitive terminology at a workshop at the Pegasus Hotel held by the International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES) Guyana, through the USAID-supported Youth ALLIES programme.

The workshop was seen as important, given that media professionals play a unique role in shaping the public image of persons with disabilities, and can contribute towards a more inclusive and equal society, through the dissemination of information and knowledge, and influencing public opinion and attitudes.

“These refreshers are very important to have, so that we understand what is going on with various groups, and see how we can better report and empower ourselves. I thought it was a well-organised session; very short,” President of the Guyana Press Association (GPA) Nazima Raghubir said.

The two-hour session was facilitated by Deputy Country Director of IFES Sri Lanka, Lasanthi Daskon, and featured a presentation by Programme Coordinator of the Guyana Society for the Blind Ganesh Singh.

Daskon said the session was very productive.

“We had really good feedback, and I’m really glad. It was an engaging session, and I hope that the journalists who were present would make use of this information and continue to do their great work on inclusion in Guyana.”

During the session, journalists were apprised on data on disability, Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD), the laws and policies in Guyana related to the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), and the importance of the sensitive terminology used to refer to persons with disabilities.

“The terminology we use in reference to disability is very important, because this is how we represent disability in our media, and it is very important for journalists to understand the accepted terminology, which refers to terminology that is accepted by the people with disability themselves. Terminologies that celebrate their diversity, identify them and give them the recognition they require,” Daskon explained.

She underscored that disability is an ever evolving term that is often revised as more information is available on the various disabilities affecting persons, so there is need for continuous updating of the media on their understanding of persons with disabilities.

Also making remarks at the event was IFES Country Manager Meredith Applegate. She was heartened by the turnout of media representatives at the event.

“We were very pleased to see an excellent group of journalists and editors come for the training today, and have fruitful discussions about how we can all be more sensitive towards the words we use when we talk about disability and how we see it in the media,” she said.

She added: “IFES Guyana is really excited to be working with a number of journalists and rights based reporting, especially when it comes to how we talk about and discuss disability and inclusion in a respectful way that recognises the CRPD.”

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is an international, non-profit organisation founded in 1987 that provides assistance and support for elections and electoral stakeholders in new and emerging democracies. Since 1987, IFES has worked in 145 countries and currently has programmes in more than 50 countries.


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