Research studies

The image of handicap in Moroccan Media


Prepared by the researcher  : ABDESSAMAD EL MAAZA – University of Mohamed 5 Rabat – Faculty of letters and human science  – Laboratory of Media and communication science Rabat Morocco – PhD researcher

Democratic Arab Center

Journal of Media Studies : Twenty-third Issue – May 2023

A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin

Nationales ISSN-Zentrum für Deutschland
ISSN 2512-3203
Journal of Media Studies

:To download the pdf version of the research papers, please visit the following link


The issue of disability is one of the most important topics that constitute an area for discussion in various scientific fields, especially since the various sciences seek to reach positive results to achieve the social integration of this category.

Psychology, like other sciences, attempts to study the influence of some media and their impact on the public, especially the role of television in passing stereotypes about this category.

Through a field study on the role of the Moroccan media in passing pictures about disability, the researcher adopted the descriptive method where he employed the content analysis technique; he chose a sample consisting of 10 TV episodes of the TV show “in our home a hero”.

The researcher concluded that the Moroccan media portrays a person in a situation of disability as a hero, suffers from the view of society, he had problems in childhood, challenger, and independent.


The media plays a hug role in human life because it provides him with many information and ideas about things and topics that exist in the world that he belong, the importance of the media in providing information to classify the topics of society and thus explain social phenomena and describe aspects of social life.

Moroccan society like other societies uses the media as a force to ensure social cohesion and create social bonds between people, it passes many messages on to form stereotypes and attitudes and build social representation about particular topics, considering that these issues are of importance in society or to form people’s opinions according to the general policy pursued by the state on certain issues.

Disability like other topics occupies an important position in the Moroccan media, where a media plan is drawn up, whether in the visual or audio media and Moroccan newspapers where ideas and information about disability are passed on the different ways and multiple means, the Moroccan media has benefited from many technical and scientific achievements that have focused on disability, as it has provided devises and means to help these people overcome the conditions of disability that they suffer from, Where these people were portrayed as integrated into society achieving important results in various field professional, sports…etc

In this research we will try to explore the most important images that the Moroccan media pass on about disability where we will adopt television programs, especially the television program “in our home is a Hero”which is broadcast on the satellite TV channel “TELE MAROC” every Friday where the program tells the story of a person with a disability, the most important forms of suffering he suffer from, and how he overcomes the most important problems related to disability.

  1. Search problem

The problem of the research attempts to monitor the relationship of the Moroccan Media represented in television programs and its ability to transmit many ideas and opinions through its use of the language of image and dialogue, where we try to find out the most important images sent by the Moroccan media about a person with a disability, Since the Media for many theorists, scientists and specialists have a great impact even on our senses and our nervous system,[1] this influence has become a starting point for many specialists in understanding a group of social phenomena in their connection to the subject of media, especially after the emergence of means of communication with the characteristic of interaction that made the public effective after it was in the old means of communication negative[2].

This introduction can be considered as a ground for understanding the relationship of the media to the phenomenon of disability, as the media can contribute to bringing the public closer to the phenomenon in interpreting it, deconstructing its data, and ringing the viewer or recipient closer to the psychological and social dimensions of the phenomenon, in the past disability carried most of the characteristics and featuresof deficiency, loss and stress, today through scientific research disability has distinct psychosocial dimensions, where many people with a disability have demonstrated many skills in different fields, this indicates that the concept of disability is no longer included in dealing with disability issues, Rather there has been talk about the concept of integration, facilitating life through accessibility and adapting legislation to suit the characteristics of a person with a disability, in this context, people in a situation of disability were seen as especially children among them “ who deviate from the level of physical mental, emotional or social characteristics to the extent that they need educational services that reach them to the maximum extent that their abilities can reach”. (NSSE 1950)

As for the current periodespecially with the new approaches that draw on legal developments and research that have accumulated in the field of disability, it has begun to look at the person in a situation of disability with a different view, as it has become a social phenomenon related to the human being, it can be seen as an infringement on human perfection, for these considerations, disability does not eliminate physical or emotional suffering and always includes the risk of social exclusion[3].

And soon, this shift in understanding the issue of disability has moved from a simple understanding that sees that there are organic factors that occur and affect the person and he suffers from problems represented in the deficiency or inability of one of the members to perform his function properly, to a theoretical model that sees disability as a set of psychological and social factors that society is responsible for the emergence of disability,the media is the means capable of changing the sum of societal representations and trends and transforming them from negative representations that exclude a person with a disability status into positive representations that work on the community’s contribution to integrating a person with a disability in society, Thus, negative social representations can be reduced if they are based on social representations that the media contribute to passing on[4].

Through all of the above the research question can be posed as follows:

What are the most important images that the Moroccan media pass on about a person with a disability?

  1. Hypothesis

It can be said that Moroccan Media portrayed the person whit disability in different ways, positives and negatives ways.

  1. Research importance

The research is of scientific importance as it aims to shed light on a category within the media field, in this category the media can contribute to raising the level of community awareness of its importance, the research has also societal importance as it tries to provide the community with the importance of the issue of disability.

  1. Research aims

The research has scientific goals represented in placing the research in its scientific framework and scientific affiliation, where the research belongs to the social psychology of media and communication, it uses scientific tools to understand a subject in its connection to society and how the media creates influences in society through the issue of disability.

The research also has societal goals as it studies the forms of stigma and stereotypes that exist in society about disability.

  1. Theoretical framework

The answer to the question the theoretical model can be presented in the following points:

  1. Research concepts

The most important research concepts can be listed as follows:

  1. The concept of media

It is difficult to define the concept of media because it is one of the concepts that are attracted by many scientific fields and subject to many changes in interpretation and understanding as we move from one scientific field to another, but it can be said that there is almost agreement that the word means “news that aims to satisfy the desire to know, that is, to know what happened and what is?[5].

According to this meaning, it can be said that the media with its entire means, whether audio or visual becomes a tool of convergence with the full meaning of the word[6].

In general, it can be said that the word “information” means news, that is, sending messages that are informational materials to an audience of recipients as the media aims to create an impact on these recipients, there are many studies that have contributed to approaching the issue of media and its relationship to a range of societal issues and how to address them in the media, in this context, we mention a study that tried to understand the media’s relationship with the issue of disability, which is study of Levine, which concluded that the media can play role in informing people about disability issues, it also helps people to accurately understand disability issues as a human rights issues, in addition, the media still supports negative images, as it has not conveyed images from the point of view of people with disabilities, the problem of the lack of information on disability issues is one of the most important problems faced by the media, where the media solicits information from non-primary sources, Usually experts and organizations are not referred to, this reinforces the negative outlook on the one hand and continues to make people in a situation of disability feel as if they are unable to express themselves[7].

  1. The concept of disability

The concept of disability appeared for the first time in gambling game in the seventeenth century under the name “hand in cap” and then the word became circulated in the game of golf, where it came to refer to the sum of the strokes that the player can deduct from the total[8]“.

This was the origin of the term “disability” through the etymological view of the concept and then the concept became the result of temporary or permanent damage, disability means “a partial or total mental physical or sensory deficiency that results in damage to the physiological, psychological or social function of a person”[9].

We also find in another definition that disability is “harm resulting from a deficiency or disability that limits or prevents a person from performing a role considered normal in relation to variables of age, gender and other social and cultural factors”[10].

The two definitions clarify that disability is every deficiency that occurs to a person at the level of the body, regardless of the type of this deficiency partial or total, in one job or the total of functions, which leads to an inability to perform tasks or function that are considered normal for the other person, disability is also the result of a dysfunction that occurs at the level of the functional system of the individual,  A process of deficiency and then disability that leads to disability, therefore, many theoretical approaches and models have emerged that differed from the definitions we referred to before and focused on different dimensions of disability as the interactive model which WARREN considers one of the representatives of this model, it focused on two main approaches, the environmental approach and the human rights approach, the first approach sees disability as a result of the absence of organization and the creation of normal environments in which a person in a situation of disability lives ( at school, in the family, the street…) Still attention to the problem of disability here requires the removal of architectural obstacles social, psychological dimensions, As for the human rights approached, disability is seen as the result of a social organization problem that is manifested in unusual relations between society and the individual, disability is the result of society’s inability to provide appropriate and appropriate services for people with a disability, As for the psychosocial approach, it attempts to transcend the physiological and anatomical challenges of the medical approach, it starts from a basic postulate, which is the problem of individual differences produced by disability, as they are individual deviations from the group average, in one or more adjectives, The approach also tried to raise many issues of concern to disability, such as the problem of psychosocial adjustment, social harm, stigma…etc

In general, disability remains a concept that defines many circumstances at the defining level, Especially since a group of sciences and scientific fields take the issue of disability as one of their most important main topics, such as medicine and human sciences…etc However, the concept of disability has gone beyond the linear approach that focuses primarily on the concept of causation, As an organic defect causes the emergence of disability, However, this perspective has been transcended to an interactive approach that sees disability as a complex phenomenon in which several factors overlap.

  1. The applied framework

After referring to the theoretical framework specified in the research, the applied framework will follow the principles of the descriptive approach where the research tool, which is the content analysis technique, this tool can be defined as a “research technique for objective systematic and quantitative description of the content that appears through communication”[11].

The researcher analyzed the content of 20 episode of television weekly program” in our house hero” which is broadcast on the satellite channel “Tele Maroc” where this program deals with the issue of disability from the beginning of the program to its end.

  1. Search results

The results of the search refer to the most important images that the TV program “in our Home hero” passes on about disability, the results appears in the following figure:

  1. A person with a disability is portrayed as a hero

In this dimension we find many images that represent the content of the TV program “in our Home is hero” about disability, where a person with a disability is considered a hero, he has many extraordinary capabilities that lead him towards excellence and success and achieve many achievements in different areas of life, “He is like the rest of the creators and innovators who challenged disability” ( the program “in our house hero” Duration 13 minute on 27 January 2018) the program also depicts many of the achievements made by people with a disability, the program’s activator says “the story of a hero whose disability did not prevent him from playing volleyball”. ( 23 March 2019)

These images attempt to focus on the most important achievements made by people with a disability despite the conditions of disability and despite society’s view, which is considered a crisis view and does not contribute to providing the conditions for success.

  1. Depicting a person with a disability as suffering from the view of society

These images describe the reality of disability in Morocco, and that society still did not accept the idea of disability, as these images are represented in the total social representations that Moroccans hold about disability, And how do they deal according to these representations with these people, In the program we find, for example, that the TV channel sees through its experiences that society does not deal with a person in a situation of objectively obstructing, transactions, as some see it with contemptuous looks,other say some words like “poor” and some wink at others”. (9 November 201)

These representations are present among Moroccans in their dealings with the data of the outside world, and not only with people with disabilities, this is due to the structure of Moroccan society, in which forms of communication based on social influence through observing the behavior of others prevail, social representations are not only negative, but with the development of society and its openness, it has become able to accept the other and create a structure of more positive representations.

  1. Depicting a person in a situation of disability as someone who suffered during childhood

The image of suffering can be considered present in many episodes of the program and this is due to the percentage of repetitions achieved by this theme, However, in this dimension it should be noted that a person with a disability had suffered in childhood from many problems, in this context, the program’s facilitator point out saying: “Ahmed lived a difficult childhood in which he was deprived of playing”. (5 February 2019)

This stage is considered crucial and of great importance in the life of the individual because it is responsible for the formation of his future personality, therefore, the conditions of disability often contributed to the deprivation of a person with a disability from playing normally with children or the exclusion of the latter by the peer group.

  1. Depicting disability as a symbol of challenge

This dimension is presented in many episodes because it indicates the total emotions and feelings that a person in situation of disability carries in, which serve as motivators for him to overcome the difficulties associated with disability, for example in the program “ he conveyed a strong message to people that nothing is impossible with disability”. (9 March 2019)

  1. Depicting a person with a disability as independent

The word independence appears to denote the totality of the work that a person with a disability does alone without the help of an outside party, this image remove all negative social representations that see that a person with a disability is unable to carry out his work alone, and in this program there are many pictures that indicate this dimension, where we find, for example: “at home she does not ask for any kind of help”. (9 November 2018)

Generally it can be said that these images passed by the television program “in our home is a hero” about persons in situations of disability, they can be considered images that on the one hand create a kind of empathy and emotional reports between the audience and the person with a disability, on the other hand, describe the psychological and social status of these people, thus, these images can be considered objective images because they not only describe the positive characteristics related to disability, but also the negative characteristics,

  1. Discussing the results of the research

To discuss the results of the research it can be said that the images passed by the Moroccan media about disability vary from negative images to positive images, Where we find for example in the positive images (hero, challenge, desire for excellence and achievement…etc) As for the negative images we find the society’s view (the most important forms of contempt, stigma…etc) many experts and specialists have stated that media is considered like a fourth authority, is able to direct people’s thoughts, it also contributes to socialization, in this context, Gerbner said : “ Previously religion or education had the greatest influence on social attitudes and habits, but now television is the source of the most widely exchanged images and messages in history, television cultivates from childhood the most inclinations and preferences that were acquired from other basic sources, the recurring pattern of mass-produced television messages and images is the mainstream of a common symbolic aura”[12].

Moreover, the media employs an easy language that is close to the community in order to achieve the element of understanding in the content of the media message, therefore we find that the Moroccan media stems from the characteristics of Moroccan society, Where it shares a conceptual structure that proceeds from the content of social representations to building a common understanding about phenomena, As these representations are considered as constructing and directing the behavior of individuals in dealing with person with disabilities, they are collective representations as DURKHEIM said, that society contributes to building, they are larger than individual representations, Which are characterized by individual characteristics related to the individual’s personal experience, Whereas collective representations are distinguished from individual representation, given that the latter remains specific in the element of awareness of each one, while the basis of collective representations is the whole community[13].

Social representations are a “set of indications and a reference system that enables the individual to interpret things”[14]. The media is considered a frame for this reference, which bears an interpretive character that is the media plays a key role in building the process of social representations around disability.

In general, it can be said that the pictures presented by the Moroccan media are not enough, a type of demotion is defined in the understanding of disability, As these pictures do not reflect the real picture, it does not reflect the conditions and circumstances experienced by persons with disabilities, Therefore, these photos can be considered the beginning of getting closer to these people, where it is necessary to track a group of films, drama, televisions programs, social networks, and the sum of articles published in newspapers and programs broadcast and radio,  generally, the image of disability in all media messages of all kinds and forms, in order to forms a general and comprehensive picture about disability.

  1. Recommendations

The person working in the field of media must be aware and educated about the issue of disability, the media must be an area for sensitization, education, and awareness of the importance of disability, media platforms should be an area for performing vital functions in society and reducing negative images about disability.

The social representations that exclude this group must be changed; television must be presented to correct society’s view of disability.

Since the media is considered the fourth authority, it must monitor society and understand the most important ways in which society thinks in order to correct some societal errors about disability.


In summary it can be said that the Moroccan media despite its contribution to broadcasting a number of programs that concern the issue of disability, is not up to the level of accurate and deep understanding of the phenomenon, nor does it provide a true picture of the total suffering experienced by a person with a disability, the most important necessities that the latter needs, therefore it should be noted that the media should adopt a periodic plan to take care of this issue because this issue is at the heart of social development.

Search references

  1. French references
  2. Clautier, J (1973) la communication audio-visuelle a l’heure, des selfs media Montréal, les presses de l’université de Montréal.
  3. DURKHEIM, E, (1968), les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse, paris, PUF
  4. Jamal ElOUAFA (2014) vieillir en terre étrangère mourir en terre natale, Publication de la faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines de Rabat, Maroc.
  5. LALOU, E (1957) regard neuf sur la TV Paris Seuil
  6. LAROUSSE MEDICAL, (1995) Paris, LAROUSSE, Les éditions françaises.
  7. Marshal Macluhan (1968) pour comprendre le Media Paris Mame-Seuil.
  8. Martin, P, Meyer, J, Papier, C, Sand, A, (1993) le handicap en question édition CTNERHI  Paris
  9. Moscovici, S (1992) psychologie sociale, PUF ,Paris.
  10. Philip, H, N, WOOD, (1980), comment mesurer les conséquences de la maladie, la classification internationale des infirmités incapacités et handicaps Chronique, OMS, Vol. N 10 octobre.
  11. REGISBABRBY, F (1975) La TV par câble ou la communication Horizontale Paris édition du CERF
  12. Romain Liberman (1988) handicap et maladie mentale que sais je ? PUF presse universitaire de France.
  13. English références
  1. Gerbner, G, and Gross, L, (1976), living whit television the violence profile, Journal of communication, 26, (2)
  2. Levine, S, (2004), reporting on disability http://wwwmedia-alliance:org/article PHP, available at:20/11/2010
  3. National Society for the study of education (1950)forthy-NINTH YEAR BOOK PART1 university of Chicago.
  4. Strate, Lance (2006) Echoes and Reflections: On Media Ecology as a field of study. Cresskili, NJ: Hampton
  5. Marshal Macluhan, pour comprendre le Media Paris Mame-Seuil (1968)
  6. REGISBABRBY, F, La TV par câble ou la communication Horizontale Paris édition du CERF (1975) P: 4
  7. Martin, P, Meyer, J, Papier, C, Sand, A, le handicap en question édition CTNERHI Paris (1993)

[4] Strate, Lance, Echoes and Reflections: On Media Ecology as a field of study. Cresskili, NJ: Hampton (2006) P:112

  1. Clautier, J, la communication audio-visuelle a l’heure, des selfs media Montréal, les presses de l’université de Montréal (1973) P :48
  2. LALOU, E, regard neuf sur la TV Paris Seuil (1957) P : 10

[7] Levine, S, Reporting on disability http://wwwmedia-alliance:org/article PHP (2004) available at:20/11/2010

[8] Romain Liberman, Handicap et maladie mentale que sais je, PUF presse universitaire de France (1988) P:33-44

[9]LAROUSSE MEDICAL,  Paris, LAROUSSE, Les éditions françaises (1995) P : 44

[10]  Philip, H, N, WOOD, comment mesurer les conséquences de la maladie, la classification internationale des infirmités incapacités et handicaps Chronique, OMS, Vol. N 10 octobre (1980) P : 401

[11] Jamal ElOUAFA. Vieillir en terre étrangère mourir en terre natale, Publication de la faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines de Rabat, Maroc (2014) P : 12.

[12] Gerbner, G, and Gross, L,  living whit television the violence profile, Journal of communication, 26, (2), (1976), P: 175

[13] DURKHEIM, E,  les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse, paris, PUF (1968) P : 621

[14] Moscovici, S, psychologie sociale, PUF, Paris (1992) P : 360.

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