Article from Disability Blog

By Guest Blogger Dominick Evans, Film Director, Writer and Activist

I am a filmmaker, and movies and television are my life, so I planned to spend this entire article discussing disability in film and television specifically. However, in the vast and diverse disability community, something media-oriented exploded across the Internet recently. It involves a popular and well-funded website that says its mission is to support people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Unfortunately, the website often fails to accurately include the voices of individuals with disabilities themselves within its framework.

I mention this because what is happening with the website in question is a microcosm of the kind of treatment people with disabilities receive in their everyday lives as a result of media representation. How disability is portrayed can greatly affect how people treat those with disabilities and how we are treated by others leads to even more stigmatizing and oppressing narratives about disability in all forms of media. Disability narratives without the inclusion of actual individuals with disabilities are missing a central part of the dialogue – the people such narratives affect the most.

In all forms of media, the diversity of the disability experience is lacking. Most messages are meant to invoke pity, fear or an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and inspiration. Rarely do such stories fall somewhere in between these accounts. People with disabilities are seldom included in the actual storytelling. Stories are told about disability, not about people with disabilities. These stories tend to only be focused on disability, with little intersection on issues like race, sex and sexuality.