Media ignore disabled without celebrity envoys, says Shriya Saran

New Delhi, Nov 17 (IANS) Indian media does not cover disabled persons’ activities if these do not have a celebrity ambassador, according to southern actress Shriya Saran.

Referring to her association as a brand ambassador for sightless people’s football, the “Drishyam” actress said: “The organisers of the game need my face to get media coverage.”

“I asked them why was I even needed in the game of such brilliant players, and they said that the media would not cover it if your face was not there,” she said.

Shriya was speaking at a panel discussion on “Reflection of disability through media: Speak of me as I am” at National Conference on Disability organised by Sarthak Educational Trust.

The panel discussed paucity of quick and appropriate medical intervention, and awareness as major causes of disability.

“Many times, mockery in films is made out of physical disability. They are considered to be pitiable, violent, super cripple,” Sarthak Advisory Board CEO Supriyo Gupta said.

“Once a person enters into the world of disability, it is quickly followed by deprivations in the areas of education, employment opportunities, and various other resources,” he added.

“This further leads to non-inclusivity and non-acceptance of persons with disability in general,” Gupta explained.

Business Today’s Principal Correspondent Sonal Khetarpal spoke about how the social issue of disability was approached as a corporate matter by few companies when she did a story on disabled.

“Many companies came to me saying you are doing a story on disability, please mention us as we are an inclusive workplace,” she said. “Inclusive workplace doesn’t mean having a wheelchair in your office.”

“It means to have the required facilities. This section can’t be segregated saying they are different. It has to be normalised. You have to give them the right environment.”

The panel emphasised on mainstreaming persons with disability through intervention and support to varied age groups and varied disability categories in the areas of Early Intervention, Inclusive Education, Skill Development, and Employment Generation.

“We always blame the media for not doing enough. Do we ever check our own responsibilities?” asked NDTV Senior News Editor Madhusudan Srinivas.

“Media’s role is to sensitise that there are people around us who are different from us,” he said.

“We should value everybody different to us, not thinking they have a certain disability. We should rather be accepting of people for who they are. This kind of an approach can bring change in terms of inclusion,” Srinivas added.