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An Examination of the Portrayal of People with Disabilities in Popular Media

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Couple inside a television set.

Warning: this post contains a handful of self-promotion. That said, what do Christine Ha, Erik Weihenmayer, Geri Jewell, and Marlee Matlin all have in common? Well, they are all mentioned in an article I wrote titled "The Media’s Impact on Public Perception of People with Disabilities" for the October 2012 AccessWorld. In the article, I cover some of the major portrayals of persons with disabilities that had an impact on my perception thereof, both good and bad.

It's no secret I'm a fan of MasterChef Season 3 winner Christine Ha—I mention the importance of her portrayal on the show in my article. I discuss Geri Jewell from the popular 1980s sitcom The Facts of Life, and delve into Erik Weihenmayer and his portrayal on the reality adventure series Expedition Impossible. Persons with disabilities are much more than their disability, and popular media's recent portrayals are proving this. We can be awesome adventurers, trekking through the mountains and rough terrain, or we can be creative chefs, preparing tasty meals. Marlee Matlin has been breaking barriers for a long time, whether it was winning the Academy award for Lead Actress in 1986's Children of a Lesser God, or breaking it down on the dance floor on Dancing with the Stars.

Reality television offers a rare glimpse into the lives of persons, and persons with disabilities have benefited from this through shows like Little People, Big World; The Little Couple; MasterChef; Dancing with the Stars; Celebrity Apprentice; and the new TLC show, Abby & Brittany. This is a reality show about conjoined twins Abby and Brittany, who have just graduated from college and are beginning their pursuit of employment. They will be searching for jobs as teachers, but most likely will start off by substitute teaching first—due to the timing of their job search being after the school year has begun. We will see how this show portrays them over time, but it is definitely starting off well. They are extremely upbeat and positive, quite awesome people!

What about fictional portrayals? Well, I recently went to see Trouble with the Curve, the new Clint Eastwood flick. In it, his character has macular degeneration. I'll be sure to share my thoughts a future post.

Also in this month's AccessWorld, I conduct a revision to the continued article containing employment resources for the year, "2012 Employment Resources for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired." This article addresses resources from the past as well as some new resources, including recruiters and organizations that impressed me.

I hope you'll check out the October issue of AccessWorld, and let me know what you think!

Couple inside television photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Topics:
General
Arts and Leisure
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