Inclusive Media

The Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting’s approval of a bill aimed at taking steps to enhance special persons’ access to the media was a good decision tainted by the unfortunate name of the bill.
The bill was called the “Access of Media (Deaf and Dumb) Persons Bill, 2022”; the use of what are now considered slurs at worst, and inappropriate and tone-deaf language at best reflects that even with the best of intentions, there is an inherent lack of sensitivity and awareness about disability and the need to make public spheres accessible and comfortable for neurodivergent people. Though it may appear inconsequential, inclusive and respectful language plays a big part in paving the steps to a less discriminatory world. It is hoped that the Senate revisits this bill and amends the language.
Notwithstanding the title, the bill has some important provisions that if implemented properly could lead to a more accessible media. Some of the provisions it puts in place are fairly simple and would require little effort from broadcasters, yet the lack of these measures before the bill had posed enormous challenges for a significant part of the population. For example, the bill mandates that news channels shall have sign language interpreters as a feature—a small step for media channels but a potentially huge one for those with hearing difficulties.
This is an occurrence in several public spheres, not just the media. There are small steps that government bodies or private institutions can take—like having ramps or elevators, that would not cost those bodies much but could significantly boost the standard of life for the differently-abled. The Senate, after this bill, must keep up the momentum and turn its attention to inclusivity in public places, transport and devising infrastructure that is designed for all, not only the majority.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt