NUJ statement on the Welsh Government Locked Out report about the impact of Covid-19 on disabled people
The Equality Council calls for scrutiny of the evidence that 68 per cent of Covid-19 related deaths comprised disabled people.
Natasha Hirst, chair of the NUJ’s Equality Council and a member of the report’s steering group said:
“The Locked Out report demonstrates the stark realities of the disadvantage and exclusion experienced by disabled people during the pandemic, worsened by the significant inequalities that already existed.
“We saw how quickly that disabled people’s rights were removed and access to vital services cut at a time when they needed them most. The evidence also highlighted that 68 per cent of Covid-19 related deaths comprised disabled people. This was not inevitable and yet has received no scrutiny.
“This sits in a context of negative and damaging rhetoric about disabled people, which serves to simultaneously present over one fifth of the population as vulnerable, passive victims and as obstructive burdens to society. Journalists have a significant role to play in challenging dehumanising portrayals of disabled people and holding our governments and public bodies to account.
“The swathes of cuts to journalists’ jobs over the last few years have significantly restricted access to relevant and reliable information, especially in Wales where most people consume news from England-based media and unreliable social media sources.
“The NUJ’s News Recovery Plan highlights the importance of media literacy, supporting local journalism and increasing diversity and access across our industry. I’m pleased that this is backed up by recommendations in the Locked Out report.
“Our industry must become more inclusive and seek to more accurately represent disabled people and their experiences in a dignified way. With increasing evidence emerging on the impact of long covid, many more people will be experiencing the disabling effects of a society that disregards disabled people’s human rights.
"Disabled people are calling for their rights to be met and their voices deserve to be heard.”