IDRAC 2012 Presentation - 8:00 am PDT, August 3, 2012
Kimberly O’Haver is a Program Manager for the Youth Initiative at the Open Society Foundations. In addition to overseeing the Youth Initiative's work in the former Soviet Union, she manages the program's work with youth with disabilities. Her presentation is based on a paper written for a class on images of disability in the media taught by Beth Haller at the City University of New York in summer 2011.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, adopted in 2006, is intended to “ensure and promote the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities without discrimination of any kind on the basis of disability” (Article 4). It promotes:
- “Respect for inherent dignity, individual autonomy including the freedom to make one’s own choices, and independence of persons;
- Full and effective participation and inclusion in society;
- Respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity;
- Equality of opportunity;
- Equality between men and women; [and]
- Respect for the evolving capacities of children with disabilities and respect for the right of children with disabilities to preserve their identities.” (Article 3)
Not all nations understand disability rights in the same way. O’Haver’s topic for her IDRAC presentation is “Interpreting Disability Rights Across Cultures: A study of international reporting on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”
O’Haver explains, "Despite the good work of my employer and other like-minded funders, the bulk of the disability and UNCRPD work is led from a legal perspective around such articles as Article 12 (Equal Recognition Before the Law) or Article 33 (National Implementation and Monitoring). But I personally see some limits to focusing only on a pursuit of legal action at the local or international level, winning cases and then trying to implement changes later to legislation. I've seen from visiting our grantees that this approach doesn’t necessarily change public perception very quickly or necessarily at all. But media touches all of us in some way, and increasingly so in the developing world where social media is allowing youth to have more power in shaping their lives. So though legal approaches are very much needed, a multi-pronged approach might lead to more sustainable change. And supporting progressive representations of disability in media can be one of the prongs."