As the world marks this year’s international Day for Persons with Disability; journalists in Ghana have been challenged to use all the ethical and strategic tools available to the practice to tell stories that properly champion the right advocacy for PWDs.

The Media Capacity Building Initiative for Reporting on Disabilities (McBird) ongoing in Secondi Takoradi in the Western Region, aims at ensuring that journalists understand issues of disability and deploy the best strategy to tell impact stories.

Sponsored by the Embassy of the United States of America in Ghana; the training is expected to hold reporters to the highest standards of ethical reporting that influences social inclusion and policy making.

Addressing this year’s fellows of McBIRD, Communications Consultant and Chief Executive Officer for Strategic Communications (STRATCOM) Africa Ester Cobba underscored the need for reporters to take initiatives that feed into the drafting of progressive policies for Persons with disability who form a tenth of Ghana’s population.

“Reporters must know that decision makers and policy makers are also members of the community and sometimes lack the knowledge needed. We need you to write so that you will advocate for them to put in the right policies,” she noted.

Managing Director for the Young Africa Media Centre Steven Salasi Asuo was particularly critical of over sensationalism and the choice of words used in the media to describe persons with disability.

Admonishing journalists to be responsible in using the right terminologies and ethical considerations in communicating to their audiences, he cautioned that stereotyping and irresponsibility in reporting further deepened the canker of stigma against PWDs.

He indicated, “Imagine a woman with disability selling tomatoes in the market selling at the same place with another who has no disability. You can imagine how they will describe the former. You will realize that brings about the cultural stigmatization and this goes so deep into our society,”

Western Region Chairman of the GJA; Desmond Cudjoe charged journalists to apprise themselves of the Disability act and other relevant pieces of information to tackle disability reporting from an informed position.

Making reference to Ghana’s Persons With Disability Act 715 passed in the year 2006, Mr. Cudjoe expressed worry journalists are not asking questions about how Ghana’s public buildings, built environment and special infrastructure conformed to accessibility requirements demanded by the Act.

He bemoaned, “We go to some of these projects when they are doing public forums before commencement of construction. However asking questions about disability and inclusion is nil because we do not have the knowledge and as media practitioners we need to learn.”

The two day training sponsored by the United States Embassy brings together reporters with commitment in disability reporting; advocates and players in disability support as well as facilitators with expertise in impact reporting.

This year’s selection of 20 distinguished journalists in disability reporting had two reporters from E.I.B. Network; Joseph Kobina Amoah of sister station Empire FM and Ivan Heathcote – Fumador from Ultimate 106.9.

By: Ivan Heathcote – Fumador