disability and the media Prescriptions for Change charles a. riley ii university press of new england hanover and london Appendix A Guidelines for Portraying People with Disabilities in the Media Fear of the unknown. Inadequate experience. Incorrect or distorted information. Lack of knowledge. These shape some of the attitudinal barriers that people with disabilities face as they become involved in their communities. People working in the media exert a powerful influence over the way people with disabilities are perceived. It’s important to the 54 million Americans with disabilities that they be portrayed realistically and that their disabilities are explained accurately. Awareness is the first step toward change. Tips for Reporting on People with Disabilities • When referring to individuals with disabilities use “disability,” not “handicapped.” • Emphasize the person, not the disability or condition. Use “people with disabilities” rather than “disabled persons,” and “people with epilepsy” rather than “epileptics.” • Omit mention of an individual’s disability unless it is pertinent to the story. • Depict the typical achiever with a disability, not just the superachiever. • Choose words that are accurate descriptions and have non-judgemental connotations. These guidelines are used by permission. Copyright © 2002, National Center on Disability and Journalism. 220 Appendix A • People with disabilities live everyday lives and should be portrayed as contributing members of the community. These portrayals should: Depict people with disabilities experiencing the same pain/pleasure that others derive from everyday life, e.g., work, parenting, education, sports and community involvement. Feature a variety of people with disabilities when possible, not just someone easily recognized by the general public. Depict employees/employers with disabilities working together. • Ask people with disabilities to provide correct information and assistance to avoid stereotypes in the media. • Portray people with disabilities as people, with both strengths and weaknesses. Appropriate Words when Portraying People with Disabilities Never Use victim—use: person who has/experienced/with. [the] cripple[d]—use: person with a disability. afflicted by/with—use: person has. invalid—use: a person with a disability. normal—most people, including people with disabilities, think they are. patient—connotes sickness. Use person with a disability. Avoid Using wheelchair bound/confined—use: uses a wheelchair or wheelchair user. homebound employment—use: employed in the home. Use with Care courageous, brave, inspirational and similar words routinely used to describe persons with disabilities. Adapting to a disability does not necessarily mean someone acquires these traits. Interviewing People with Disabilities When interviewing a person with a disability, relax! Conduct your interview as you would with anyone. Be clear and candid in your questioning Appendix A 221 and ask for clarification of terms or issues when necessary. Be upfront about deadlines, the focus of your story, and when and where it will appear. Interviewing Etiquette • Shake hands when introduced to someone with a disability. People with limited hand use or artificial limbs do shake hands. • Speak directly to people with disabilities, not through their companions. • Don’t be embarrassed using such phrases as “See you soon,” “Walk this way” or “Got to run.” These are common expressions, and are unlikely to offend. • If you offer to help, wait until the offer is accepted. • Consider the needs of people with d isabilities when planning events. • Conduct interviews in a manner that emphasizes abilities, achievements and individual qualities. • Don’t emphasize differences by putting people with disabilities on a pedestal. When Interviewing People with Hearing Disabilities • Attract the person’s attention by tapping on his or her shoulder or waving. • If you are interviewing someone with a partial hearing loss, ask where it would be most comfortable for you to sit. • If the person is lip-reading, look directly at him/her and speak slowly and clearly. Do not exaggerate lip movements or shout. Do speak expressively, as facial expressions, gestures and body movements will help him/her understand you. • Position yourself facing the light source and keep hands and food away from your mouth when speaking. When Interviewing People with Vision Disabilities • Always identify yourself and anyone else who might be present. • When offering a handshake, say, “Shall we shake hands?” • When offering seating, place the person’s hand on the back or arm of the seat. • Let the person know if you move or need to end the conversation. 222 Appendix A When Interviewing People with Speech Disabilities • Ask short questions that require short answers when possible. • Do not feign understanding. Try rephrasing your questions, if necessary. When Interviewing People Using a Wheelchair or Crutches • Do not lean on a person’s wheelchair. The chair is a part of his/her body space. • Sit or kneel to place yourself at eye level with the person you are interviewing. • Make sure the interview site is accessible. Check for: Reserved parking for people with disabilities A ramp or step-free entrance Accessible restrooms An elevator if the interview is not on the first floor Water fountains and telephones low enough for wheelchair use Be sure to notify the interviewee if there are problems with the location. Discuss what to do and make alternate plans. Writing About Disability One of the first and most significant steps to changing negative stereotypes and attitudes toward people with disabilities begins when we rethink the way written and spoken images are used to portray people with disabilities. The following is a brief, but important, list of suggestions for portraying people with disabilities in the media. People with disabilities are not “handicapped,” unless there are physical or attitudinal barriers that make it difficult for them to participate in everyday activities. An office building with steps and no entry ramp creates a “handicapping” barrier for people who use wheelchairs. In the same way, a hotel that does not have a TTY/telephone (teletypewriter) creates a barrier for someone who is hearing disabled. It is important to focus on the person, not necessarily the disability. In writing, name the person first and then, if necessary, explain his or her disability. The same rule applies when speaking. Don’t focus on someone’s disability unless it’s crucial to the point being made. In long, written materials, when many references have been made to Appendix A 223 persons with disabilities or someone who is disabled, it is acceptable for later references to refer to “disabled persons” or “disabled individuals.” Because a person is not a condition or a disease, avoid referring to someone with a disability by his or her disability alone. For example, don’t say someone is a “post-polio” or a “C.P.” or an “epileptic.” Refer instead to someone who has post-polio syndrome, or has cerebral palsy, or has epilepsy. Don’t use “disabled” as a noun because it implies a state of separateness. “The disabled” are not a group apart from the rest of society. When writing or speaking about people with disabilities, choose descriptive words and portray people in a positive light. Avoid words with negative connotations: • Avoid calling someone a “victim.” • Avoid referring to people with disabilities as “cripples” or “crippled.” This is negative and demeaning language. • Don’t write or say that someone is “afflicted.” • Avoid the word “invalid” as it means, quite literally, “not valid.” • Write or speak about people who use wheelchairs. Wheelchair users are not “wheelchair-bound.” • Refer to people who are not disabled as “nondisabled” or “ablebodied.” When you call non-disabled people “normal,” the implication is that people with disabilities are not normal. • Someone who is disabled is only a patient to his or her physician or in a reference to medical treatment. • Avoid cliches. Don’t use “unfortunate,” “pitiful,” “poor,” “dumb,” “crip,” “deformed,” “retard,” “blind as a bat” or other patronizing and demeaning words. • In the same vein, don’t glamorize or make heroes of people with disabilities simply because they have adapted to their disabilities. Your concerted efforts to use positive, non-judgmental respectful language when referring to people with disabilities in writing and in everyday speaking can go a long way toward helping to change negative stereotypes. Appendix B Guidelines for Web Accessibility This document provides a list of all checkpoints from the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, organized by concept, as a checklist for Web content developers. Please refer to the Guidelines document for introductory information, information about related documents, a glossary of terms, and more. This list may be used to review a page or site for accessibility. For each checkpoint, indicate whether the checkpoint has been satisfied, has not been satisfied, or is not applicable. A list of current W3C Recommendations and other technical documents can be found at http://www.w3.org/ TR. This document has been produced as part of the Web Accessibility Initiative. Priorities Each checkpoint has a priority level assigned by the Working Group based on the checkpoint’s impact on accessibility. Priority 1. A Web content developer must satisfy this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it impossible to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint is a basic requirement for some groups to be able to use Web documents. Priority 2. A Web content developer should satisfy this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it difficult to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint will remove significant barriers to accessing Web documents. Priority 3. A Web content developer may address this checkpoint. Otherwise, one or more groups will find it somewhat difficult to access information in the document. Satisfying this checkpoint will improve access to Web documents. These guidelines are used by permission. Copyright © 2005 World Wide Web Consortium (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics, Keio University). All Rights Reserved. http://www.w3.org/Consortium/ Legal/2002/copyright-documents-200221231 Appendix B 225 Some checkpoints specify a priority level that may change under certain (indicated) conditions. Priority 1 checkpoints In general: 1.1 Provide a text equivalent for every non-text element (e.g., via “alt,” “longdesc,” or in element content). This includes: images, graphical representations of text (including symbols), image map regions, animations (e.g., animated GIFs), applets and programmatic objects, ASCII art, frames, scripts, images used as list bullets, spacers, graphical buttons, sounds (played with or without user interaction), standalone audio files, audio tracks of video, and video. 2.1 Ensure that all information conveyed with color is also available without color, for example from context or markup. 4.1 Clearly identify changes in the natural language of a document’s text and any text equivalents (e.g., captions). 6.1 Organize documents so they may be read without style sheets. For example, when an HTML document is rendered without associated style sheets, it must still be possible to read the document. 6.2 Ensure that equivalents for dynamic content are updated when the dynamic content changes. 7.1 Until user agents allow us

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