BuzzFeed, one of the world’s biggest online news and entertainment platforms, is this week running a special disability rights focus, covering everything from social injustice to backpacking for wheelchair users.
Following on from a successful series of articles and videos based around the issue of housing earlier this year, the media giant are this time turning the spotlight onto disability, with a huge range of content going online over the coming days.
“What we’re trying to do is to talk about disability in a way that’s really personable and accessible for our audience, which is a younger audience,” explains Louise Ridley, news editor of longfom and special projects at BuzzFeed UK. “We’ve got some amazing stories, we’ve got lots of writing by disabled young people, and there’s a mixture of hard-hitting news.”
While the site’s news team have always covered disability issues – their work saw Eurostar rethink their policies around wheelchair users earlier this year – this week will see more in-depth content and some exclusive stories too.
“We’ve got some exclusive stats on discrimination,” Louise explains. “We’ve got a really amazing piece around the postcode lottery to get a wheelchair – how likely you are to get an NHS wheelchair based on where you live. We’ve got a good piece on people with learning disabilities dying avoidably in hospital. And there’s a piece around blue badges being taken away from people under the PIP assessments.”
The team have been careful to put a really personal twist on their coverage too. As well as their news pieces, there are lots of interviews showcasing what life’s really like for disabled people living in Britain today – and exactly what’s possible.
“We’ve done a brilliant interview that’s very funny and moving and very frank with a girl who’s 19 and completely reliant on social care. She has a huge number of carers who look after her 24/7,” Louise says. “We’ve got a whole set of interviews coming out on Monday too, speaking with people who have got hidden or invisible disabilities and what that’s like with them.”
They’ve tapped into BuzzFeed’s brilliant data and interactive skills too, to create a ‘choose your own adventure’-style game which lets users see what it’s like trying to use public transport with a disability – all based on real people’s experiences.
“At BuzzFeed, a lot of what we do is focused on minority groups,” Louise points out. “We think it’s really important to give people who are underrepresented an immediate voice.
“We wanted to do a special project because we think disability rights are at a crisis point at the moment in the UK. You’ve got things like budget cuts affecting people, the crisis in social care, there’s a lot of difficulty around transport, and people are starting to vocalise and continue campaigning.”
You can check out BuzzFeed’s special coverage this week at www.buzzfeed.com/disabilityrights