June 15, 2024
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By Simon Manda

JOHANNESBURG, Dec. 4, 2023 — The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), in collaboration with Wits Plus partners, hosted an impactful diversity workshop today focusing on fostering an understanding of disability.

The occasion aligned with the annual global commemoration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The hybrid in-person and virtual event saw attendance from SABC employees in the M1 studios and via live stream. But most significantly, the achievement of employment equity of 55 staff members with disabilities was announced –representing 2.4 per cent of the organization’s current workforce.

During her opening comments, Gladys Boakye, SABC Acting Group Executive of Human Resources, emphasised this meaningful advancement towards equitable representation.

“At SABC, we believe in the dignity of all people and building accessible teams that authentically reflect the diversity of our audiences,” said Boakye. “Achieving 2.4 per cent participation is a significant goal for fostering an inclusive culture where every employee can thrive with the appropriate support.”

The awareness-building event featured experts like Subhashini Ellan, Academic and Facilities Access Coordinator from Wits Disability Rights Unit, presenting access and assistive technology examples of effective disability support measures in academia and media organizations.

Sarah Coutts of Wits Plus led an impactful workshop unpacking elements of visible and hidden disabilities accommodations and situational awareness in the workplace – empowering colleagues with actionable advice on respectful allyship.

Additionally, SABC staff members Zama Longwe and Richman Ndindwa framed their presentation by outlining the definition of disability. Ndindwa, who uses a wheelchair, zoned on the view of defining conditions as opposed to society’s take of disability as a sickness.

“The challenges we face as people with disabilities include lack of access, for example, in churches, where the pulpit is a fixture which limits me from using it to preach as well if I want to,” he noted.

“Public places lack accommodations, like at police stations, where Deaf and hard of hearing people struggle to get services or report cases,’ he added.

Candice Morgan and Zamikhaya Mpiyonke spotlighted etiquette and language usage in the Deaf community and sign language in South Africa – giving interactive and audience participation examples on stage.

Facilitators Candice Morgan and Zamikhaya Mpiyonke (R) having an interactive challenge for Nkhumeleni Madlala and Nonkanyezi Kholosa from SABC

Zain Bulbulia, Director of Disability Rights in the Office of the Premier of Gauteng Province, traced the legislative progress and sociocultural evolution still required around disabilities across sectors.

Bulbulia also touched on the pandemic period of the COVID-19 period, which saw people with chronic conditions like diabetes and cancer also declaring themselves as people with disabilities.

“It’s all good and well to reach a percentage of 2.4% as an organisation, but we also have to look at the quality of the job placements,” he remarked.

“The percentages are also dependent on the size of the organisation. The Gauteng Premier’s Office has a 3.5 disability staff equity, translating to over 10,000 employees with disabilities. We aim to reach a 4% staff complement and increase our procurement numbers for businesspeople with disabilities to the required 7% target.”

Zain Bulbulia, Director of Disability Rights at the Gauteng Premier’s Office

In closing, Nkhumeleni Madlala, SABC’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Coordinator, was grateful for the support demonstrated by various partners at the organisation’s first-ever disability workshop and called for more disability disclosures to take advantage of the reasonable accommodations that SABC provides.

Mpho Teme and Eula Dunstone provided sign language interpretation throughout to make the full event accessible.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities workshop capped a year of hard-won positive movement for disability inclusion across SABC – propelled by employee input, management initiative, and partners invested in diversity. Though more work lies ahead in the journey towards inclusion, the organization has achieved major milestones thus far.

As Boakye eloquently stated, “By coming together across lived experiences and building awareness of each perspective, we get closer to fulfilling our highest purpose as public servants – creating broadcasting that represents, includes and speaks to all the people of South Africa.”

About SABC

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is South Africa’s national public broadcaster, accessible across the country through 19 radio stations and five television channels. Its purpose is to empower, enrich and inform society through impactful multiplatform programming, community collaboration and equitable representation for all.

 

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