First it was a groundbreaking television show to open up access for people living with disabilities.
Now Jabaar Mohamed has bagged an award from the prestigious South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) in recognition of his work.
At the recent Saftas event, Mohamed was selected as a winner in the category of Outstanding Person with Disability Contributor Award.
Regarded as a champion for people living with disabilities, Mohamed, who is also the provincial director of DeafSA, started a TV show in 2018 as a volunteer.
Through a discussion with another pioneer living with a disability, Dr Marlene le Roux, the name of the show was changed from “Disability Show” to “Accessibility with Jabaar” in recognition of the wide scope it covered.
“Imagine feeling marginalised because of a disability. As unfair as this sounds, it is a reality for many South Africans trying to access opportunities in an environment that does not cater to their special needs.
“People living with disabilities are constantly having to prove their capabilities to an often prejudiced and ignorant world, leaving many of them feeling that they cannot reach their full potential,” said Mohamed.
The talk show “Accessibility with Jabaar” confronts misconceptions about disabilities and the disadvantaged community through informative conversations.
“The engaging sessions are aimed at encouraging the benefits of having an inclusive society,” explained Mohamed.
He added that the show was also changing the narrative of people living with a disability by highlighting powerful universal stories that made for uplifting content.
“It plays the role of informing members of the community about opportunities and gives tips on not only coping with a disability, but also flourishing with it,” added Mohamed.
Some of those who benefit from the show are families whose members have a person living with a disability .
“They get to understand that there are so many possibilities and resources out there. We want to avoid the sense of pity. Also it helps researchers at universities or companies in their work,” he added.
Cape Town TV, which flights the show, submitted it to the Saftas for consideration for an award
Station manager Karen Thorne said: “We feel very proud of Jabaar. We have been working with him for five years now and we have seen him flower as a producer and presenter.
“The show has gone from strength to strength and Jabaar has excelled in serving the needs of the disabled community, both in his work at Cape Town TV and in the many other roles that he plays in assisting this community.”
Thorne also regarded the Saftas recognition as a win not only for Mohamed, but also for the television station.
“Our staff and crew are immensely proud to be associated with this outstanding individual.”
As a community broadcaster, Cape Town TV recognised that the disabled community was “under-represented” in the media space and sought to find “a credible media personality” who could fill the gap by producing a show to serve their interests, added Thorne.
“Jabaar is one of our most successful community producers and his show has attracted a loyal audience over the years.”
The CEO of Artscape, Marlene le Roux, described Mohamed as “always pushing boundaries and opening doors for persons who are deaf and people who are hard of hearing. He is a change agent in our society”.
Mohamed has partnered with Artscape giving advice on accessibility and to train staff on sign language.
“By presenting a TV show as a deaf person, not only for deaf persons but for the entire society is groundbreaking.
“I am a woman with a disability and I am more than proud of Jabaar, who is making history. He is a role model to so many and he shows that amidst adversary you can make a difference and be the change.”
For Mohamed, there’s no stopping what he is doing.
“I will continue for as long as I am alive. My aim is to continue to break barriers and open more doors. I also plan to train other people so that the show continues.”
“I feel so proud to obtain the Golden Horn Awards as the first deaf person at the Saftas. I feel so blessed and grateful to my late parents for raising me for community advocacy.”