Equal Lives were recently contacted by Clare Precey at the UEA. Clare is a Course Director in Broadcast Journalism, and she asked if we would be open to coming and chatting to her students about disability.
I spoke to Clare on the phone and was keen to go in and meet the students. It felt like a brilliant opportunity to represent disability in the media. Meeting future journalists would be the best way for us express how we feel about disability in the media now – and be part of shaping what this could look like in the future.
We were invited to the UEA Broadcast House at Colegate, and I chose three of us, with varying disabilities, to go. It was me (Kimberly Myhill, Development Manager), Ben Reed CEO, and Hannah Murgatroyd who is one of our volunteers. Clare offered adjustments to us all without having to ask, and Hannah was the first to use the new lift that had been recently installed. The building was accessible, with lots of modern facilities.
As disabled people, it can be anxiety inducing to head into a room full of people, who we assumed were mostly non-disabled. Disabled people are used to meeting people who have preconceptions about us. Any nerves felt by the team were however quickly soothed by the warm welcome from the students and staff.
We covered a lot in the time we were there; Clare talked about representation in the media, making adjustments, language and the inclusion of disabled people in articles that aren’t necessarily ‘about disability’.
We split into groups and talked about the varying barriers we face, our experiences with the media and the Social Model of Disability.
What we found most interesting in our time at the UEA was when Clare asked, at the beginning, people's personal experience of disability, and for the most part they said none or referenced a family member. By the end of session at least three of the group realised they had been facing barriers and this changed their perspective of disability. We love to see this; when the Social Model of Disability is used, people become aware of barriers, and how they can confidently speak about them. Speaking about barriers is the best start towards removing them.
At the end of the session, we stayed on to do an interview with one of the students.
We had a lot of fun and we will definitely continue to work with the UEA – we are looking forward to reading their stories!
Thank you for inviting us Clare, we had a great time and you have a great bunch of students!