RESOURCE: Training Manual for African Journalists

Posted on 6 February 2008. Filed under: Cross-Disability, Inclusion, Media & Journalism, Poverty, Resources, Sub-Saharan Africa Region | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Journalists in Africa who want to integrate the concerns of disabled people into their mainstreamed news coverage can turn to a training manual for assistance. The 26-page manual, released by the Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities, is entitled The Invisible People: A Practical Guide for Journalists on How to Include Persons with Disabilities (PDF format, 665 Kb).

This manual is targeted at journalists, including media personnel who are new to disability issues and related human rights concerns. But it might also be useful as an advocacy tool for Disabled People Organizations (DPOs) or individual advocates who work closely with journalists.

Although the training manual is targeted at African journalists, most of its content is broad enough that it might also be of interest to journalists in other regions. My only caution is that usage of disability-related terminology, to some extent, can vary from culture to culture. For example, in some countries the term “people with disabilities” is strongly preferred; in others, the strongly preferred term is “disabled people”; and in still others, “persons with disabilities” is considered correct. Or, in Spanish, “personas con discapacidades.” However, in my observation so far, certain themes seem to be universal: terms such as “deaf and dumb,” “retarded,” or “invalid” are considered offensive in nearly any country.

The Invisble People” (PDF, 665 Kb) provides journalists with basic background information about people with disabilities and an overview of the disability rights movement both globally and in Africa.

Part of the manual focuses on certain key principles journalists can bear in mind when including people with disabilities. These include: the need to focus on the person rather than the disability; show people with disabilities as active in society; picturing them as part of the general public, not just when covering disability issues; allow disabled people to have their own voice; avoid common stereotypes such as “the superhero” and “the victim”; work with journalists who themselves have disabilities; communicate with DPOs; don’t only interview disabled persons on disability issues–interview them about mainstream issues also.

Next, “The Invisble People” (PDF, 665 Kb) the manual addresses several issues that are key concerns for the disability community. These include accessibility, the enabling environment, poverty, mainstreaming, health care, HIV/AIDS, education, employment, culture, sport, children with disabilities, women with disabilities, and the international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The manual also makes recommendations about the appropriate terminology to use when referring to persons with various types of disabilities.

The manual ends with engaging examples of the wrong way, and the right way, to cover disability issues in the media.

You can download the manual in PDF format (665 Kb) by clicking on its title anywhere it appears above, or by following the link to:

We Can Do found this manual by exploring the web site for the Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities. I encourage We Can Do readers with an interest in pragmatic disability-related training manuals to explore their other resources at

Also at We Can Do: catch up with the news; explore resources, toolkits, or funding and fellowship opportunities that might be helpful for your organization; find research, reports, papers, or statistics; or look up conferences, events, call for papers, or education/training opportunities.

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