Not only preparing the seedbed for a burgeoning democracy, creating a secular state, and promoting the equality of nations and nationalities but also averting all forms of discrimination including the ones that arise from obliviousness are the responsibilities of an accountable government that cuts a posture of citizens’ patron. Ensuring a level ground for all segments of the society is imperative.
Though there are over 700 million people that live with disability worldwide, the attention accorded to them proves abysmal due to the wrong picture and shallow outlook the world community and governments have about disability.
For instance, despite the presence of over 17 million people in Ethiopia living with disability, due to the policy directions that intentionally or otherwise marginalized this segment of the society, a large portion of them were pushed from the boons of education,a thicket for pursuing one’s chosen career and hence shaping one’s fate.
The ordeal of people living with disability aggravates as one shifts focus from developed countries to the developing ones as the former, in the course of time, understanding disability doesn’t imply inability have long began mending their policy directions. In the developed nations Educations that focus on special needs are being accorded focal attention. Moreover road infrastructures and buildings are being designed giving room to the needs of people living with disability .Even in the sport arena people living with disability are afforded chances to prove their prowess.
Sadly, as members of the mass media are part of the society it was a deaf ear and a dead face they were posing to the plights of people living with disability. Hence the messages they had been carrying across to their audience were no different from the outlook of the society. Hence their role in reversing the wrong outlook was little if not nil.
As the saying goes adding insult to injury, though the situation is changing in current day Ethiopia, people living with disability, for long, were not getting useful information from the media, for the messages were not conveyed as per their special needs. For instance the deaf were not receiving information in sign language. Nor were sufficient teachers conversant in the language.
Deprived of information in an era information that plays a key role in all forms of transactions, people living with disability were grappling for their right in the corridors of fierce competition. Given this fact it is not hard to surmise how people living with disability were marginalized for long.
Moreover the words and expressions the media people at times unintentionally use prove disagreeable to people living with disability. Hence addressing this problem is a task that must not be put on the back burner.
In a sensitization workshop Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs(MoLSA) this week held in collaboration with the Ethiopian Broadcast Authority to render people living with disability beneficiaries of the media service, participants including various media heads,experts and representatives of different associations working on disability had underscored the need for a concerted effort and a well arrayed move.
“As is the case in other parts of the world, here in Ethiopia, the image citizens have about people living with disability is distorted. Though media people, who are the mirror image of the society, could not be held accountable to the indifference they exhibited so far,henceforth in dealing with the issue they are expected to be more cautions, responsible and forthcoming!” is what the Social Security Development Section Director in MoLSA Ato Feleke Jember underlined.
Deputy director of the Ethiopian Broadcast Authority Ato Luel Gebru on his part underlined “In light of the enormity of the problem, the works people of the media done in addressing disability is less than satisfactory. As media people couldn’t single alone redress the problem, a confluence of forces among different actors is mandatory.”
People living with disability that attended the meeting on their part noted that though the united nation’s conventions for the protection of the right of people living with disability is incorporated in the federal constitution these words could not be fully translated into action.
They stressed infrastructural facilities being put in place must take into account people living with disability. Making a paradigm shift and growing out of a lip service people of the media must get on the ball.
Heads of government and private medias as well as different organizations that attended the sensitization workshop, as a way forward, had reached on a consensus to further discuss the issue and establish a media forum.
It was also noted that a manual that helps streamline the use of language pertaining to people living with disability is in the pipeline.
Hopefully the problem will be arrested in the near future.//