Sunday, 11 April, 2021

Media asked to use proper words to denote disability


By A Staff Reporter
Kathmandu, Mar. 2: Words have social meaning, even more so when used by the media. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that journalists employ the correct words when referring to people with disabilities. This was what the stakeholders stressed during an interaction programme organised by Press Council Nepal (PCN) on the effective implementation of the Disabled-friendly Communication Directive introduced four years ago.
The directive requires media organisations and personnel to use respectful words that do not harm the dignity of people with disabilities, belittle them, give them adequate space for expression and do not victimise them.
“The directive includes a full list of words that journalists should avoid,” he said, reminding everyone that the Council continuously monitored the media content and would take appropriate action if it found any violations.
Speaking at the programme, Jagadish Prasad Adhikari, executive director of Nepal Disabled Human Rights Centre (NDHRC), said that, in addition to words, the media also needed to avoid relating disabilities with unpleasant events. “We see news that call the government ‘blind’ or politicians ‘deaf.’ Such language conveys that disabilities are bad and it hurts our feelings,” he said, adding, “Then, there are serials where people living with disabilities are used as comic relief or are made the butt of jokes which is highly offensive.”
The interaction was attended by various media personalities like Laxman Humagain, chief executive officer of Image Television and general secretary of Media Alliance Nepal, Tika Ram Yatri, editor-in-chief of AP1 Television, Tirtha Koirala, editor of Thaha Khabar, Kapil Kafle, editor of Nepal Sanchar Patra and Rishi Dhamala, executive chairman of Prime Time TV. All of them expressed their commitment to avoid using offensive and derogatory words and promised to abide by the directive in their newsrooms.
Dr. Birendra Raj Pokharel, Nepal representative of Abilis Foundation and former chairman of the National Federation of the Disabled Nepal and Tara Bedan Sedhai, president of NDHRC along with officials from PCN, Gopal Budhathoki, acting chairman, Deepak Khanal, spokesperson and Dipak Pandey, a member also expressed their views.