20100517 Media Guidelines Disabilities

20100517 Media Guidelines For the Portrayal of Disability

Source ILO

These Guidelines are intended for all people working as editors, journalists, broadcasters, producers, programme makers and presenters. They are also relevant to people working as web editors, and on interactive multimedia products.

The media - television, radio, newspapers, magazines, the Internet, social

media and other forms - play an important role in influencing public opinion and attitudes. The choice of words, images and messages can determine perceptions, attitudes and behaviours. It can also define what does or does not matter to individuals and the world around them.


How people with disabilities are portrayed and the frequency with which they appear in the media has an enormous impact on how they are regarded in society. While there are some disability-specific media programmes, such as television documentaries, disabled people rarely appear as part of mainstream programmes. When they do appear, they

are often stigmatized or stereotyped, and may appear as either objects of pity or super heroic accomplishment and endurance. Including them in regular programmes on television and radio in addition to other types of

media can help provide fair and balanced representation and helps to counter commonplace stereotypes that perpetuate negative perceptions of disabled persons. Portraying people with disabilities with dignity and respect in the media can help promote more inclusive and tolerant societies.