A GROUP of seven young Scots living with various disabilities are challenging the media to portray their experiences with greater accuracy and demonstrate empathy with their diverse needs.

The Divergent Influencers are all in their 20s and have been chosen by charity ARC Scotland as media spokespeople and role models for inclusion and accessibility.

All have a variety of conditions including autism, mental health problems, dwarfism, gender dysphoria and physical disabilities requiring the use of a wheelchair and were chosen last year as part of a Young Leaders Project run by the charity.

The group chose to produce a best practice guide to have more say in how people with disabilities are represented in the media.

Journalists tend to assume that contributors know how the media works and what is required when it comes to an interview.

However, the Divergent Influencers found navigating unspoken expectations confusing and felt they should be given a choice of whether it is live or pre-recorded. They also found a video call at home was preferable because, in many cases, carer support is required to travel to venues which may not be fully accessible.

Abbie Purvis, 21, from Kilmarnock, an actor who has dwarfism, said: “I know from my own experience that because I am a small person, it doesn’t always occur to journalists and photographers/camera crew to address me at eye level.

“Failure to do this has the effect of making the interview feel like I am a child being addressed by an adult.

“Our guidelines aren’t complicated but following could make a huge difference to people with disabilities and the way they are received.”

Scott Richardson-Read of ARC Scotland, who helped establish the group added: “This group of remarkable young people continue to display incredible resilience and resourcefulness. We can all learn from, and be inspired by them.”