Disability charity Scope has called for press officers to ensure
they are using the correct terminology to describe disabled people.
PROs at Government agencies, utilities, retailers and any other
organisation which deals with the disabled need to be more aware of
harmful misrepresentation, the charity said. ’We are not saying their
practices are necessarily bad,’ Scope PRO Robert McLean explained. ’We
are saying: ’just check’.’
A new report from Scope, Stop Press!, monitored national and local press
reports but found little change in the portrayal of disabled people
since its last survey in 1991. Eighty pejorative terms were used more
than 800 times, undermining the disabled, it said.
Since news organisations often lifted phrases from press releases, the
correct language must be used in the first place, said McLean. ’People
obtain their views and opinions through the media so it’s important that
the lives of disabled people are reflected accurately.’ Scope urged
agencies to work with charities. It successfully liaised with Bell
Pottinger on language for a drug promotion, McLean said. ’It is more
than just the language, it is the context of the story.’ Prurient
details of medical conditions should be avoided, he added.
The campaign was launched at a press conference last week where speakers
included Peter White, the BBC’s disability correspondent and broadcaster
Other charities agree with Scope’s assessment. Jeannette Lyons, press
and PR manager at the National Autistic Society, said negative imagery
remained common in the press. ’It is still very stereotyped,’ she
Scope changed its own name from The Spastics Society five years ago.