Representation Matters: The Importance of Disabled Persons in Media

The media is one of the most powerful forces in our society. It has a profound impact on how we see ourselves and others, and it shapes our expectations for what we should expect from life. Unfortunately, many people with developmental disabilities (DD) are not represented in the media at all. This exclusion creates a culture that devalues DDIs who exist outside of traditional definitions of normalcy.     

Representation Shapes Perception

Images and stories in the media have the power to shape public opinion and lay down societal standards. The media seldom features persons with disabilities, and when it does, they are frequently represented incorrectly according to stereotypes. Persons with disabilities are frequently depicted as victims of pity, charity, or medical intervention that must overcome a tragic or debilitating condition.

Disability Dignity Matters

When we rarely see images or stories of persons with disabilities, they are not respected. Instead, they become easy targets for ridicule and exclusion from everyday life. In order to create a society that values everyone regardless of ability, it is important to include people with DDs in all types of media and roles: models, actors, musicians, artists -all of it.       

Disability Rights are Human Rights

At the heart of it, representation matters because people matter. Disabled persons exist in every nation and community across the world. It is essential that we respect human rights for all humans no matter their abilities or disabilities. The media should be a tool used to create awareness, foster understanding, and break down stereotypes.

Changing Established Perceptions

With a view to getting an accurate and balanced picture of disability as part of everyday life, attention should be drawn to the media’s representation of disability. The media has the ability to influence how issues surrounding disability are addressed by using harmful preconceptions and promoting rights and dignity for persons with impairments. Furthermore, methods for portraying people with disabilities in different media should be explored.

To end, we thought it would be nice to share some of our current favorite examples of representation in the media.

Love on the Spectrum -A Netflix series following seven young adults on the autism spectrum dive headfirst into the dating pool, exploring the unpredictable world of love and relationships.

Gucci Model, Ellie Goldstein -Gucci Beauty’s newest mascara campaign stars Ellie Goldstein, an 18-year-old model with Down syndrome.

Special -A Netflix series about a gay man, Ryan, with mild cerebral palsy who decides to rewrite his identity and finally go after the life he wants.

We hope you’ll celebrate and support these individuals helping to change the landscape of traditional media. We sure do! Please share your favorite examples of DDI representation in the media on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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