Key to Com­bat­ing Prej­u­dice,

or How to cover the lives of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties in me­dia

Uzbekistan Today (English) - - TODAY IN UZBEKISTAN - Igor Saneyev

The UNICEF coun­try of­fice in Uzbek­istan has or­ga­nized a round­table dis­cus­sion in Tashkent de­voted to rais­ing the level of eth­i­cal me­dia cov­er­age of is­sues re­lated to dis­abil­i­ties, es­pe­cially with re­gard to im­paired chil­dren.

Jour­nal­ists, man­agers and blog­gers of me­dia or­ga­ni­za­tions and NGOs took part in the event, which pro­vided with a lively and in­for­mal at­mos­phere. Me­dia rep­re­sen­ta­tives had a great op­por­tu­nity to com­mu­ni­cate closely with spe­cial­ists in this field, for ex­am­ple, with psy­chol­o­gists and chiefs of var­i­ous or­ga­ni­za­tions.

For ex­am­ple, the head of UNICEF coun­try of­fice in Uzbek­istan, Sascha Grau­mann, in an in­ter­view with our cor­re­spon­dent stressed that the me­dia play a de­ci­sive role in shap­ing the right at­ti­tude to­wards per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties, as well as in coun­ter­ing neg­a­tive stereo­types man­i­fested in this field.

In some pub­li­ca­tions, Grau­mann pointed out, one some­times ob­serves demon­stra­tion of pity for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, and that is com­pletely un­ac­cept­able. These chil­dren pri­mar­ily have rights, the same as those of their healthy peers. And it is im­por­tant for jour­nal­ists to fo­cus read­ers’ at­ten­tion not on what they lack, but on their abil­i­ties and achieve­ments, UN­ESCO of­fi­cial stressed.

At the event, of­fi­cial statis­tics cited sug­gested that about 85 thou­sand chil­dren are reg­is­tered in Uzbek­istan with dis­abil­i­ties un­der the age of 16. Of these, 14,600 live in spe­cial­ized board­ing schools for kids with men­tal and phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties, away from their fam­i­lies.

Speeches of per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties and their par­ents were rather engaging. For ex­am­ple, Shah­noza Ikramova, whose son Rus­tam is di­ag­nosed with Down syn­drome, stressed that her child for her is grace, not pun­ish­ment. And she said that some of her neigh­bors fright­ened their chil­dren by say­ing that ‘if they do not obey their par­ents, they will be given to... Rus­tam’…

Also quite in­ter­est­ing was the pre­sen­ta­tion of the UN Pro­gram Co­or­di­na­tor for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties Yana Chiche­rina, who con­ducted a work­shop on cov­er­ing these is­sues. She, in par­tic­u­lar, has led five ‘nev­ers’ that can­not be used in me­dia pub­li­ca­tions. Thus, do not ap­ply dis­abil­ity as the main char­ac­ter­is­tic or dif­fer­ence of a per­son, do not use ep­i­thets that cause pity, fas­tid­i­ous­ness or fear, do not make dis­abil­ity cause hu­man prob­lems, do not ad­mire what many peo­ple do with­out dis­abil­ity, even if it is done in an un­usual way. In ad­di­tion, she led five ‘al­ways’, and one of them is try to find hope, joy or hu­mor.

I think that these coun­cils will be use­ful not only to me­dia rep­re­sen­ta­tives, but also to other cit­i­zens in deal­ing with peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

... I left this event with a sin­cere feel­ing that I know very lit­tle about the rules for cov­er­ing is­sues per­tain­ing to peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, and that writ­ing on this topic is a big re­spon­si­bil­ity.

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