'Media shows the intellectually disabled at a disadvantage'

New study by Ministry of Welfare, Social Services finds the media generally focuses on overwhelming difficulties the population faces as a group in society.

Nachum Itzkovitz_521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Nachum Itzkovitz_521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Media coverage of people with developmental delays tends to focus on the difficulties the population faces in society rather than the group’s positive aspects, a new study by the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services has found.
Set to be presented on Tuesday and Wednesday at a ministry conference in Tel Aviv on intellectual disabilities, the study showed that despite an increase in the number of newspaper articles and online media providing information on this population, the media in general still focuses on the overwhelming difficulties they face as a group in society.
“This way they perpetuate the image that people with developmental delays are always at a disadvantage in Israel society compared to other people,” wrote the report’s authors in their introduction.
Based on a sample of some 596 newspaper articles and 295 website items published between July and December 2010, the survey found that coverage in the haredi sector was more positive while reports in the daily press tended to be more negative.
“The Ministry of Welfare will continue its efforts to break down the stereotypes surrounding people with this type of disability,” said the office’s director-general Nachum Itzkovitz.
“The ministry believes that with the right kind of encouragement and support, any person with a disability can achieve their potential and integrate fully into society with the chance of leading a fulfilling life.”
A spokeswoman for the ministry said that analyzing how people with developmental delays are presented in the media provided a good indication of the general public’s attitude towards the population.
In additional to overall presentation of the community in the media, the study also examined issues related to care and living conditions for the sector, criminal law, general activities, education and integration.
The survey found that two-thirds of the media coverage dealt with practical issues relating to the population’s integration within mainstream society and the rest of the coverage focused on health issues of developmental delays, with numerous articles focusing on therapeutic treatment and early diagnosis during pregnancy.
A very small number of articles focused on the challenges facing family members of people with such disabilities or on employment options for adults with intellectual disabilities.