Dr Augustina Naami, Head of Social Work Department, University of Ghana, has advised against portraying persons with disability negatively since such behaviuor perpetrates discrimination against them.
Dr Naami said society needed to see their capabilities not their disability and that the use of derogatory, abusive, and discriminatory words in describing them was unpalatable.
Dr Naami, who said this at a day’s refresher training workshop on positive reportage on disability issues, organised for journalists in the Oti Region at Nkwanta by VOICE Ghana, a Ho-based NGO.
Dr Naami said the use of positive disability language should rather be encouraged.
She asked the media to support persons with disabilities to reach their full potential by reporting on their success stories devoid of derogatory headlines.
Presentations made were on the topics, “Relating with People with Disabilities Including people with Mental Health Conditions,” “Key Policies and Legislative Framework on the Rights of People with Disabilities,” among others, said the use of derogatory names and inappropriate language against persons with disability contravened the Persons with Disability ACT, 2006 (ACT 751).
She said that those who contravened the ACT committed an offence and were liable to a summary conviction of a fine not exceeding fifty penalty units or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months or to both.
Mr Bright Agbagba, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, VOICE Ghana, said the organisation with support from Ghana Somubi Dwumadie is implementing a 33-month project in Volta and Oti Regions.
The project aims to help reduce stigma and discrimination against people with disabilities including people with mental health conditions based formative research carried out and that they were in their second year of the project.
He said the project focused on awareness creation on positive behavioural change towards people with disability including people with mental health conditions.
He announced that positive disability terminologies book had been developed in Ewe, Twi and Likpakpaln to aid in the sensitisation.
The Monitoring and Evaluation Officer said 44 Inclusion Ambassadors, drawn from 20 implementing communities have also been capacitated to drive Social Behaviour Change (SBC) activities in their respective communities.
On feedback from beneficiary communities, he said, there had been an increased use of positive disability terminologies, positive attitudinal change by some family and community members toward people with disability.
Mr Baba Adams, a Journalist with UTV and GTV, on behalf of the Journalists, thanked the organisers for the workshop and promised to put knowledge acquired into practice.
Similar workshops will be organised for media practitioners in the Volta Region.