TODAY, 1 July 2013 (print edition)
Mainstream media carry a great responsibility in the way they present their reports about persons with disabilities (PWD).
With Singapore having signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities last November and the Government moving towards an inclusive society, we are seeing more news reports on PWD. Recently, it was reported that a charity rebranded itself and changed its name to Cerebral Palsy Alliance Singapore as its former name was considered derogatory.
The Prime Minister, after attending the Welcome to My World 2013 concert presented by Very Special Arts Singapore, posted on Facebook a photo, among others, of Redeafination, a hip-hop group for the Deaf, and the latter was heartened that he had used a capital D.
The group said: “This casting may seem minor to you, but means a lot to our community. Thank you for contributing to public awareness of the correct term!”
The words we use to describe PWD can be interpreted in varying degrees and may mean little to able persons but so much to PWD. That a charity rebranded itself after 56 years illustrates the importance of using politically correct terminology.
If our PM can use proper terminology to describe PWD, surely trained journalists can do the same, if not better. Mainstream media have a duty to ensure that their reporting is respectable and done responsibly.
The International Labour Organization, a United Nations agency, has published media guidelines for the portrayal of disability (see http://www.ilo.org ), and I hope the mainstream media will stop using insensitive and derogatory terms because they have a major role in public awareness.
Disabled People’s Association