Serving professional journalism since 1912

Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

Is disability a barrier to being a journalist?

Glasgow Clyde College student Kyle Gunn was told by the Scottish Qualifications Authority that he could not receive the Higher National Diploma in Practical Journalism. This was because his cerebral palsy meant he was unable to take the shorthand section of the course.

However, following a “clarification” by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) of its policy on disabled students and shorthand, the SQA said it was reconsidering its position. The statement says the body makes “reasonable adjustments and gives special considerations to learners with particular needs” for all of its qualifications.

“The NCTJ Diploma in Journalism is an industry-designed vocational qualification and is recognised as the industry standard, pre-entry qualification for trainee journalists.

“Shorthand is an elective component of the diploma, which means that learners may complete the qualification without shorthand.

“The NCTJ National Qualification in Journalism is a professional qualification taken by regional newspaper journalists after a minimum of 18 months of employment. Although the eligibility requirements for this qualification include shorthand, applications made for learners unable to meet the eligibility requirements are always considered, and adjustments will be considered for candidates with particular needs.

“For example, we have a trainee sitting the November NQJ exam who cannot achieve 100wpm shorthand, so alternative arrangements have been made following a discussion with the editor and the trainee. We strongly believe that a disability should not be a barrier to getting a job in journalism, and even if employers have shorthand as a requirement, applications will normally be considered on a case-by case basis.”