Scope issues a language alert

Disability charity Scope has called for press officers to ensure they are using the correct terminology to describe disabled people.

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

Trevor Phillips.



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

said.



Scope changed its own name from The Spastics Society five years ago.



Leader, p8.



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