The Special Media Awards are presented annually to media makers with intellectual disabilities. The winners of this year's Special Media Awards 2022 will be announced on Thursday evening, 10 November, 2022 from 18.30 until 21.00 from Beeld en Geluid in Hilversum!

MediaLab cares about this special cause and lets the Special Media Awards use our platform. We spoke to founder and project lead Sonja Heijkamp from healthcare organization Amerpoort about this year’s award show and about content creators with a disability.

Why did you start with organizing the Special Media Awards?

I wanted to show that people with disabilities enjoy creating content too, and that what they creative is really cool! The award show acts as a positive counter-narrative to the negative coverage about the dangers of the internet for people with disabilities. We focus on educating them and increasing their awareness.

This year is the event’s 4th edition. How did the Special Media Awards evolve during that period?

We’ve faced a lot of challenges, but we’ve grown a lot. We broadcast the event live on YouTube now, which is very exciting, and we work with an expert jury that doesn’t just pick the winner, but also gives the contestants tips on how to improve their content.

The number of submissions increases each year: this year we’ve had 171! Within our target group the awards are getting more and more well-known and more people have the courage to send in their content. And because we’re growing, it becomes easier every year to collaborate with organizations.

How are people with intellectual disabilities currently represented in the Dutch media landscape?

I think when a person with a disability is asked to join a program, it’s usually because of their disability, because that particular show or item is about the disability. I would like to see more people invited despite their disability. About two years ago there was a show called ‘Net ff anders’. It features six young adults with a disability and shows the problems they encounter in everyday life – I think that’s very informative to watch if you want to know more about the topic.

Which of the previous winners do you remember in particular and why?

One that I remember fondly is the web series ‘Kevin zoekt werk’ by Koraal Media. Some nominees are more than able to promote themselves online, but other ones are a bit more hesitant. Kevin is one of them, but his series won an award and I loved seeing his reaction: one of pure joy and happiness.

How has MediaLab helped to professionalize the Special Media Awards?

MediaLab has been involved with the awards since 2019, and we’ve been using the platform since that year as well. But every year, we keep discovering new features and we use it more. Nominees are asked for example to upload their content to MediaLab to guarantee the highest quality. We also ask the visitors of the award show to upload their pictures to MediaLab, so we can pick the best ones. It’s so easy to use!

Can you tell us more about this year’s nominees?

By now, the nominees have been officially announced on our website. We always base our categories on the type of submissions we get, and this year features two new categories: ‘Media awareness’ features instructions on how to use social media, and ‘Editorial’ deals with media content that’s not video – newsletters, for example. We’re all looking forward to the night of the awards and we hope that a lot of people will tune in!

You can watch the Special Media Awards live on YouTube: Thursday night, 10 November, from 18.30 until 21.00.

Want to see more of the Special Media Awards and Sonja Heijkamp? Watch the interview with BM Talk here (in Dutch).

Photo from Esther Meijer

MediaLab Team

Nov 02, 2022