Broadcasters urged to cater for ‘persons living with disabilities’

there should be no misuse of info on the airwaves during the elections period – GNBA Chairman

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Television broadcasters are being urged to remember to cater for persons living with disabilities (PLWD). This call was made by Chairman of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority’s (GNBA) Board, Leslie Sobers at the organisation’s fourth stakeholder engagement forum held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC).

The broadcasters were advised to employ someone who is versed in sign language to make accessible the information being broadcast to persons with hearing impairments. Sobers said broadcasters must demonstrate their social responsibility and treat persons living with disabilities equally.

Chairman of the GNBA’s Board, Leslie Sobers.

“I urge our broadcasters to work towards removing any level of discrimination so that people who have hearing impairments can access information and also understand what is happening around them,” he stated.

The chairman noted that the GNBA is aware that it would be a costly venture, however, he encouraged the local television broadcasters “to make an attempt. It could not be that impacting on your bottom line if you were to have one major newscast with the closed caption running at the bottom or have a person who is skilled in sign language interpreting the news.”

According to Sobers, this would see them abiding by the Persons Living with Disabilities Act, Chapter 36:05 Section 26. Subsection one of the Act states that “within ten years of coming into operation of this Act or later date that the Minister may prescribe the person in charge of every national television station shall provide a sign language inset or subtitles in at least one newscast programme daily and special programmes covering events of national significance.”

Sobers pointed out that the GNBA cannot institute proceedings under the PLWD Act as it relates to broadcasting. Nevertheless, he made it clear that steps will be taken in collaboration with the Commission on Persons Living With Disabilities to determine whether broadcasters can be regarded as fit and proper to hold a license if they continue to breach an Act that caters for PLWD.

He also highlighted that the GNBA will be combining their monitoring efforts with other agencies and a Caribbean entity that can monitor all broadcasters in Guyana at any given time.

“Our country will be moving into a period [General Elections] that has its own excitement and during this time, we intend that there should be no misuse of information on the airwaves. Be assured that defiance and violations will be treated appropriately,” Sobers underscored.

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