Any condition of the body or mind (impairment) that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to undertake particular tasks (activity limitation) and interact with the environment around them is referred to as a disability (participation restrictions) (CDC, 2020).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, are disabled. Significant impairments affect one-fifth of the projected worldwide total or between 110 million and 190 million individuals. They went on to say that the prevalence of disability is higher in developing nations. It is, therefore, safe to say that one out of every forty people has some significant disability.
Data from WHO also captures that 40 – 46% of persons with disability are those above 60 years. Without going into greater detail, the statistics above are significant enough to influence the narratives across all works of our society and offer a tool to hold those in power accountable.
This art and science of framing stories based on insights gleaned from pertinent data amount to excellent journalism since it moves us from false news to verified news that everyone can scrutinize. As a result, society becomes more democratic, dependable, and transformational. It is, therefore, a call for journalists & news agencies to garner data about People with Disabilities (PWDs), their rights, and the obstacles they face. Keeping these discussions at the forefront would aid in the creation of a more inclusive society.
Whenever the subject of data is mentioned, Luddite and tech neophytes often get dispirited. Perhaps in fear that this “data” may be difficult to obtain (Big Data). However, what is required, are easily obtainable online from journals, articles, and credible sources (often called small data), such as the one shared in this article, viz, etc.
For our clime, we need advocacy bodies to persuade the government to democratize data for social and sustainable development. Agencies like NIMC which have a decent amount of data about Nigerians should anonymize this data and make it public. This will allow every level of government as well as development partners to have a tool to understand the population of PWDs in their location and develop programs that support this community.
In reporting about PWDs, journalists are adhered to avoid traditional media models of disability as discussed by the researchers Clogston (1990), Haller (1995) but rather stick with the progressive models.
The traditional subscribes to disability as something that should be fixed (medical) and that disability is a charity project for society (social pathology). Both of which are against the progressive frame that this community has civil/legal rights, some of which are captured on the United Nations Convention on the rights of PWDs and the Nigerian discrimination against persons with disabilities prohibition act, 2018.
Additionally, the idea of framing PWDs as super cribs or inspirational porn for achieving everyday things is another traditional model. These frames are wrong. It is more progressive to accommodate PWDs as cultural pluralist (minority groups within a society that have their distinctive cultural identities, values, and practices, consistent with the laws and values of the wider society).
It is expedient for the media and all its partners which include you and me to understand PWDs, their rights, and obstacles, so we can keep the public informed and hold those in power accountable.