Disability in Media: A report tackles representation to advance equality

Judy Heumann, an internationally recognized disability rights leader, joined in 2017 the Ford Foundation for a yearlong fellowship, working with the foundation’s staff to integrate a disability-inclusive perspective across their work. On her own, as a blog post/interview by the Ford Foundation details, she researched the inclusion of disability in film and television.

That exploration lead to the report "Road Map for Inclusion: Changing the face of disability in media", published recently by the Ford Foundation. “The disability experience ought to be an intrinsic element of the media’s representation of society,” Heumann writes, adding that “the time has come to seriously and comprehensively take steps that will move us from the margins to the main stage.”

As the Ford Foundation's blog discusses, through the report Heumann offers a study of how disability has typically, and problematically, been portrayed in scripted television and film, from Sesame Street to Breaking Bad, and highlights examples of progress.

Through the report, Heumann addresses the challenges of authentic representation and how media can be part of the solution. The blog post explains,

She looks at how other minorities and countries have succeeded in shifting the way they are represented in the media, and how the growing disability rights field can learn from the progress they’ve made. And she offers concrete recommendations about how the media can reduce stereotypical representations of disability—and in doing so, help reduce discrimination and advance equality.

Read the report here.

Image: Pixabay / David Mark