The International Day of People with Disabilities celebrated its 30th anniversary on December 3rd. DW has set itself ambitious goals.
All it takes is a simple Google search. If you type "inclusion" and "Deutsche Welle", you will be taken straight to dw.com‘s inclusion page featuring a considerable number of articles. This comprehensive and, above all, continuous reporting shows the great sense of responsibility shared by all DW editorial teams. After all, media play a key role in the development of an inclusive society.
Article 3 of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities - ratified by the Federal Republic of Germany in 2009 - makes this very clear. It calls for the full and effective participation and inclusion in society. DW takes this goal very seriously. Ableism continues to be one of the focus dimensions of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I). Nicholas McKenna-Klein, Head of DW Sports, comments: "We attach great importance on telling stories from around the world in order to convey an image of our diverse society. It goes without saying that people with disabilities are part of our reporting, just like everyone else. If we can break down prejudices in this way, that's even better!"
Nevertheless, inclusion is an ongoing process and requires conscious decisions. DW's self-declaration on digital accessibility, i.e. access to information for all people, is an important component of the company's portfolio. An important step: by the end of 2025, at least 90 percent of DW's entire audiovisual program offering is to be subtitled.*
There is already a very successful example: DW Hindi and Distribution Asia have developed an inclusive short format in hindi sign language with Indian partners Josh App, India's leading short video app, and Dailyhunt, India's largest news aggregator. Between December 2022 and April 2023 alone, there were 170 million views.
DW pursues ambitious goals, especially regarding staffing. It already fulfils the statutory requirement of employing at least 5% severely disabled people.
According to the inclusion agreement, this rate is supposed to be increased to 8%. Fabian Engelsdorfer completed his training as a media designer at DW. "I very quickly developed the self-confidence of not necessarily being perceived as disabled, and that I was trusted with the tasks and didn't feel excluded anywhere," says Engelsdorfer.
To further progress the mission, three DW employees are completing an inclusion manager training programme as part of the INNOKLUSIO pilot project. One of them is Theresa Bergau, who is responsible for BEM procedures, among other things. "I already received valuable impulses. There was also the opportunity for an intensive exchange of experiences with other pilot companies."
There are already representatives for people with disabilities, an internal DW committee that discusses all issues relating to work and disability at DW with applicants and employees in a joint and confidential manner.
In addition to the educational programme, INNOKLUSIO offers the "Dialogue in the Dark" exhibition. Zahra Nedjabat, Head of DE&I, comments: "This year's INNOKLUSIO week was not only a very special premiere in DW's history, but also an unforgettable and lasting experience for many DW colleagues in Berlin. This opportunity for dialogue, a change of perspective and practical knowledge building has given us enormous momentum on the path to greater inclusion. Our aim is therefore to bring the format to Bonn next year."
But there are also setbacks. For example, there is still no suitable replacement for the "Echt behindert" podcast, which was discontinued in 2022 at our colleague Matthias Klaus‘ own request. However, a new format with an international focus, preferably Africa or Southeast Asia, is currently being planned.
Conclusion: As a media company and employer, DW is acutely aware of its social responsibility when it comes to inclusion. Many committed employees are involved in a wide variety of processes to ensure the ongoing optimisation of a lasting cultural change.
*In an earlier version, the program accessibility was stated as 100 percent, but DW's action plan states that it has committed to 90% to 100% subtitling of its program offerings by the end of 2025. We apologize for the previous mistake.