Chapter 5 Disability Representation in Digital Media in Zimbabwe

In: Education for Democracy 2.0
Tafadzwa Rugoho
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Digital media has ushered in a new era of awareness and advocacy on the rights of people with disabilities. In the absence of personal experience and contact, digital media plays a considerable role in shaping knowledge and attitudes towards disability, especially since traditional media has long neglected to represent the realities of disabled populations. Where there is a space for disability issues, it is often centered in models of charity and ableism. Mainstream media has failed to properly encourage critical literacy within the larger population, literacy required in order to cultivate citizen participation. In developing nations, these issues are compounded in minority populations, which results in very little control over the shaping of democratic processes for citizens with a disability. However, the development of Web 2.0 has offered a platform for disability activists to engage in new and surprising ways. Activists may package information and content without censorship and editing. Thus, they are able to communicate authentic emotions and frustrations in their own words. Utilizing a wide variety of digital platforms, people with disabilities are able to disseminate democratic educational resources from around the globe. Trans-border disability activists have made a tremendous impact on the world as a whole. Social tagging also provides a direct line of communication between activists and political parties, politicians, and other stakeholders. This chapter will discuss the ways in which disability activists in Zimbabwe have used digital platforms to educate their communities on disability rights and to expand resources for civic engagement for people with disabilities.

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