Thursday, January 25, 2018

Media Relations

Disabled People’s Organizations have held a series of trainings in media relations for both Civil Society Organizations and Journalists, to try and fill the chasm created by the Media in its inability to air human interest disability related stories. If aired; these stories usually come with victimization and helplessness overtones which are rarely the case for most Persons with Disabilities.
Civil society organizations should take interest and build lasting relationships with both media houses and journalists. This should come through various interactions both professionally and outside of work as they get to acquaint themselves with each other and their work. The comfortable and easy relationship will make it possible to give disability related stories coverage based on facts and experience instead of assumptions.
Provision of information prior to the event is very important for maximum coverage and it can be done through a press release. Although some may argue that a press release is devoid of flesh for a news story, others say it acts as a cause for investigation leading to a newsworthy story. The issuance of a press-release covers the therefore to misrepresentation Civil Societies and Persons with Disabilities face when it comes to print media.
Niche journalists well versed on disability and the language will go a long way in the coverage of disability related stories. Civil Societies working with Persons with Disabilities need to look out for editors and journalists who are knowledgeable on disability and build their capacities further, and involve them at disability related events so they can be the agents of change in the media for Persons with Disabilities.
When it comes to interviews; Civil Society Organizations need to be as open as possible with journalists albeit within limits. Giving the journalist a lot of room for questions and conversation invariably leads to misquotation in the media yet it was information provided by the interviewee. Civil Society Organizations and Persons with Disabilities should try not to deviate from the topic in an attempt to be as informative as possible during interviews at events for better coverage and representation.
Journalists believe that the real stories worthy of front page coverage are the ones coming from the grass-roots, in the districts of operation for Disabled People’s Organizations. They therefore wish to be requested for coverage during field work activities so they can get firsthand information and experience on the work done by Disabled People’s Organizations and Persons with Disabilities towards the improvement of their livelihoods.

Use of alternative media to put across issues of Persons with Disabilities should not be ignored. Social media has become such a powerful tool in communication that journalists are looking to it now as a news source. The use of social media gives the user full control over the content and tone they wish to use when delivering stories pertaining to Disability and Persons with Disabilities.

Friday, December 1, 2017


There are moments when he looks at her,
Seeking the love that shone brilliantly with each gaze.
Searching for the little smile that crossed her lips with each interaction between them.
Aching for the acts of affection that were given so lavishly but went unappreciated.

There are moments when he looks at her,
With bated breath and a frightfully hopeful gaze.
Looking for the love that he thought was infinitely his,
From eyes clouded by his disappointments,
And a heart forever broken by them.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Her Mother

Her Mother.
Her strength,
Her courage,

The adoration she basks in with each success,
The source of pride in her uncompromising values,
The beacon of hope in an uncertain future,
The unwavering faith behind her pursuit of happiness,
The will behind her indomitable persona,

Her courage,
Her strength,
Her Mother.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

He Called Her At Midnight

"Alexandra. I hope I didn't wake you", he said.
"No. I am up finalizing a design."
She heard him draw a deep albeit shaky breath. Like he was mentally bracing himself for what he was about to say. Hearing him do so put her on edge. The call itself had thrown her mind and emotions off kilter. To hear him do so before revealing his reasons for the late night phone call didn't bode well.
"Max... What's wrong?"
"Alexandra... She... I need you..."
Max was never a stutterer. If anything; he was the one person you could rest assured would find the right words, no matter the situation. His incoherent reply meant the situation was a lot worse than she could imagine.
"What is it?", she asked. "Tell it to me at once because you're scaring me."
With that; her thoughts raced over every possible situation that could get him to act this way. Try as she may; she couldn't find a plausible reason that would explain his current behavior. She was about to prod him for an explanation when his hushed words cut off her thoughts.
"Tessa died." He whispered over the phone. "She must have slipped out of the apartment while I was in the shower."
His change in tone denoted the gravity of the situation. A situation, it seemed, he couldn't bring himself to accept. Every word out of him came in slow, shaky tones that brooked no interruption.
Tears rushed to her eyes as she tried to stifle a sob while listening to the gory details. Marc- his next door neighbour, had found the little dog whimpering and covered in blood on the way back from his late night jog. He'd immediately scooped it up and rushed to Max's apartment after recognising her spotted tail.
Alexandra could only imagine what this loss would do to him. Tessa was his world. The last tangible link to a past he refused to let go of. The one thing he swore was the only good thing out of it. Knowing how much Tessa meant to him made her glad for the fact that they were able to share her last moments together - in the safe haven of his arms where she had known so much love and comfort.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Your Face On Mine

I don't know how to kiss.
But, I do know,
I want to feel your face on mine.
To look into your deep-set eyes,
Until all I see is my reflection.
Rub the tip of my nose with yours,
And prolong the anticipation.
To feel you draw breath,
As you prepare to drink in my taste.
Watch my hands,
As they wind themselves around your neck.
Pulling you closer,
Into our embrace.
While we slowly kindle,
The fire that sizzles between us.

I don't know how to kiss.
But, I do know,
I want to feel your face on mine.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

When the Rose Colored Glasses Wear Off

An image of Kampala Serena Hotel

Kampala Serena Hotel is one of the best hotels an able-bodied person could ever find themselves in. However, the same sentiment can't be held by a Person with Disabilities. In fact, there is a lot more to be desired, for a Five Star Hotel.
The issue of accessibility is a problem that continues to plague the service industry and Kampala Serena is no exception. The hotel has no provision for ramps at the entrance to ease the movement of Persons with Disabilities especially the wheelchair bound and Calipher users. The restrooms are either a floor above or below the actual location of the conference. Woe unto a guest with disability needing to use the restrooms.
The call of nature is one we all know that can't be ignored but when faced with this kind of situation; guests with disabilities limit their intake of fluids to avoid drawing attention to them by being bodily carried up and down the stairs to access the restrooms.
President Museveni introduced the Affirmative Action act that gives top priority to Persons with Disabilities, the elderly and pregnant women. This act has not only been in effect for a couple of years but is standard practice in the service industry, for example, banks, hospitals and a few hotels. Sadly, this is not the case for Kampala Serena and its staff.
During the 2017 National Family Planning Conference, Persons with Disabilities were forced to endure standing for hours on end in long queues at the service stations with staff looking on instead of extending offers of help. It is through prodding by fellow guests that saw them spring into action and help guests with disabilities.
Ms. Jennifer Musisi and her team at Kampala City Council Authority should take a break from investigating the compliance of malls in relation to the Public Buildings Act and scrutinize these hotels. They, more than anything, need to be more compliant with the Public Buildings Act despite their status in the service industry.
Along with this; event organizers - most especially Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, need to put a lot of thought on the needs of guests with disabilities attending their conferences. Disabled People's Organizations sink in a lot of money to be part of these national activities. Having their needs overlooked is not only unacceptable but doesn't reflect well on both the organizers and hosts.
 They should also include Persons with Disabilities on their committees before deciding on the choice of venue and setting. Accessibility is uncompromisingly Key for a Person with Disability. For an events planning committee to seat and make a decision based on ambiance, location and environment without the involvement of Persons with Disabilities is to hand them the short end of the stick. There are other five star hotels in good locations, are disability friendly and sensitive, with far better services than Kampala Serena Hotel.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Access To Information

I met our  AIGP Asan Kasingye at the event
I had the pleasure of attending a public dialogue on Access to Information hosted by the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) and the company of Uganda Government representatives from Ministers, Departments and Agencies.
The topic at hand was what government agencies had done to enable the public access information and majority of the replies from the representatives ranged from social media activity where citizens get timely responses, development of web portals for information dissemination and accountability, not forgetting magazines.
As much as the strides are notable especially in this digital age; I felt these public servants focused much more on the minority of users that is the technologically savvy urban person than the layman person who would like to access this information and represents majority of the population.
In a population of 38 million people as of June 2016, internet usage and access is at 31% with an even lower margin from a disability point of view. Many cannot afford the basic phone let alone smart phones which remain the cheapest method of internet and information access. Their low income statuses cannot sustain the possession of a smart phone coupled with the purchase of data.
Information access remains beleaguered by computer illiteracy where persons with disabilities are concerned. They lack basic skills in computer use if presented with one and it is far worse for blind persons with disabilities who need specialized equipment like JAWS (Job Access with Speech) which comes at a cost.
A lot of sensitization campaigns need to be carried out to inform the public on the availability of information access on prior mentioned platforms. They need to be shared and use tutored for full utilization because not all are knowledgeable of their existence.
To cap it off; the impenetrable mountainous terrain has made wider spread and coverage impossible invariably limiting access to both the internet and information in the deeper villages of the country.

More needs to be done to propel information access on a wider coverage regardless of the availability of services and tools. They alone cannot do much for that person with a disability living in a far off village without so much as awareness of their availability and use. 

Media Relations

Disabled People’s Organizations have held a series of trainings in media relations for both Civil Society Organizations and Journalis...