Another challenge that can be turned into an opportunity is the media. It can be the lens through which hundreds of millions of Americans see these issues. Thoughtful press coverage of disability issues is scarce today. While NPR, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, PBS’ NewsHour and The Boston Globe offer some quality coverage of disability issues periodically, no major media outlet has done consistent, deep and regular reporting on disability issues. Major media outlets do not have a “disabilities beat” for reporters, despite the fact that those with disabilities represent a group in the same way as Latinos, African-Americans and others followed by the media.
The entire media industry is experiencing a dramatic transformation in which press outlets have fewer reporters, thus relying more on information packaged by outside groups. Today there is no outside trusted group that has made filling this gap on disability issues its mission. RespectAbility will change that as we will work with disability groups and experts to educate the media so that their coverage can inspire positive change. After all, the media can help leaders, employers and the public better understand the potential for all people with disabilities, regardless of diagnosis or severity of disability to work at real jobs for minimum wage or more so they can pursue the American dream. We will focus especially on shining a spotlight on companies that are using the talents of people with disabilities to achieve a better bottom line.
CNBC segment on hiring people with disabilities featuring Kessler and Walgreens