Role of ICT and the general media plays in the portrayal of people with disabilities

Briant, E., Watson, N., & Philo, G. (2013). Reporting disability in the age of austerity: the changing face of media representation of disability and disabled people in the United Kingdom and the creation of new ‘folk devils’. Disability & Society, 28(6), 874-889.

This article examines the effects of the reforms enacted in 2010 by the UK Coalition Government in consideration of the media’s depiction of people with disabilities after the government restructured disability-related benefits following the 2007/ 2008 financial crisis. The article compares the portrayal of people with disabilities in newspapers in 2007/2008 to 2004/2005.

An analysis of the article suggests that there were significant changes in the portrayal of people with disabilities. The print media coverage of people with disabilities in 2010/2011 was less empathetic in comparison to previous years through increased articles focusing on disability-related frauds and benefits. It also acknowledges the increase in the use of degrading language to describe people with disabilities- they are regarded as folk evil.

The relevance of this article is quite apparent since it raises the issue of the role the media plays in manipulating the perception of people to disability-related issues. It uses less technical jargon, making it appropriate for a general audience. However, it fails in addressing the issue of digital media and instead focuses on the print media, making it out of date.

You only live twice. Dr. Lewis Gilbert. Fox, 1967.Videocassette.

            In most of the James Bond movies, the villain is usually disabled or with queer personalities. The villainous character is usually portrayed as evil, sinister,, and with intimacy issues. In the film “You only live twice,” Ernst Stravo  Blofeld, who is physically impaired, plays the role of the villain. He intends to conspicuously intercept Russian and American spaceships to create a grudge between the two nations, which would later culminate into war. In addition to sinister plots, he is also portrayed as sexually abnormal in that he enjoys feeding pretty women to sharks. The creation of this evil persona brings forth the issue of how the film industry leverages on disabilities to create an uneasy atmosphere in their films.

Despite being an old film, it is relevant in this research since it demonstrates how the film industry portrayed people with disabilities in the past. It, therefore, makes it a viable baseline indicator of how the portrayal of disabled people has evolved over the years. There hasn’t been a significant change in the portrayal of people with disabilities even in modern films, therefore, making this film still a relevant source.

However, the film fails in demonstrating how we can help these people with disabilities. For Instance, in the closing scene, James Bond eventually kills Blofeld, which brings forth the issue of how society handles disabled people. In the case of Blofeld, his psychological issues could have been a result of his disability and, consequently, low self-esteem. Killing him shows that society has no regard for the disabled in that they never try to understand them and that the only way to handle them when they are troublesome is by eliminating them.

Swain J., French S., Barnes C., Thomas C. (2013) Disabling Barriers – Enabling Environments. SAGE Publications.

This an essential book for anyone interested in disability issues. It tackles issues ranging from early writings on disabilities, death, hate crime to sports. Chapter 6 stresses the importance of creating an enabling environment for the disabled to enable equal participation. It stresses the importance of creating an enabling environment for people with disabilities, such as providing ramps, information, and other physical amenities. It, however, stresses that despite creative an enabling physical environment, there is also a need for attitude adjustment concerning the general perception of people with disabilities. It highlights the role of ICT, and the general media plays in the portrayal of people with disabilities.

This book is quite relevant for this research because it not only addresses the issues regarding disability but also touches on psychological issues. Also, the authors are recognized professors, and some of them are disabled ergo the book was written from actual experiences. Moreover, the initial publication of the book was in 1993 and it has undergone revision over the years, making up to date . I intend to use the book in this research to understand the genesis on the biased consensus on disabled people and the role the media plays.

Longmore, P. (2016). Telethons – Spectacle, Disability, and the Business of Charity. Oxford Publications

In this book, the author describes a conspicuous form of fundraising known as Telethons, which has become a staple of American life. In his book, Longmore compares Telethons to analogous concepts such as the “comic emcees ” and the “poster children.” The book provides a vivid account of how the perception of disabled people evolved from symbols of pity in the sixties to symbols of empowerment in the 21st century.

In his book Paul (2016) highlights that over the years, telethons have described disabled children as individuals incapable of participating in everyday community life. He goes on to argue that these televised telethons, positioned the audience as the givers while reinforcing the notion that the receivers, the disabled-, should be depended on their able donors. He also criticizes these telethons as tools for raising money instead of creating awareness. This book is pivotal in this research since it clearly shows how the media typically portrays disabled people as needy. Besides, it focuses on video media, which is the most popular form of media ergo, subjecting it to less bias.

Howe, P. D. (2008). From inside the newsroom: Paralympic media and the production of elite disability. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 43(2), 135-150.

The article begins by highlighting the role of the media in shaping the representation of social issues and managing the general understanding of the people of the world. It stresses the importance of controlling the information in media centers, especially at major sporting events such as paralympic sports.

According to the article, despite the print media collecting relatively moderate content from these events, the influence of editors who have strong opinions on what’s best for their audiences results in a product lacking cultural understanding of the sport.

This article is relevant to this research since it focuses on an area that is often overlooked -sports for the disabled. It criticizes the media for not leveraging these sports in creating awareness on the disabled. However, it fails to address the issue of Paralympics being held separately from the Olympics.

Burns, S. (2010). Words matter: Journalists, educators, media guidelines, and representation of disability. Asia Pacific Media Educator, (20), 277.

This article uses humor to stress its message that words matter. It goes ahead and gives a historical account of the origin of the phrase. In 2010, there were disturbing cases of racism that prompted the sporting organizations in Australia to put in place measures to curb racism. The center of this debate was two former rugby players, Andrew johns and Mal Brown, who engaged in a heated exchange of words that eventually led to the debate. Essentially during their heated exchange of words, Johns described Mal Brown as a retard, which brought up the issue of how the choice of words the disabled.

The article highlights the importance of developing guidelines to assist journalists in representing disabled people. It addresses issues concerning word choice and also provides guidelines on ways of preparing for interviews with people with disabilities.

This article is quite relevant to this research since it clearly illustrates how the right choice of words in the media, including films, can result in a different outlook on people with disabilities. I would, therefore, recommend this article to anyone interested in social science.

Children of a lesser god. Randa Haines. Fox. 1986. Disk

The theme of this movie focuses on disability. It tells of a love story between a deaf woman, Sarah, and a hearing man, James. The two meet in a school – where Sarah attended as a kid- where they work and eventually fall in love. The movie raises the issues of the difficulties that arise from these two being a couple. In the opening scenes of the movie, the School director addresses the teachers telling them that their duty is not to change the world but to help deaf kids. He also describes Sarah as a bright student who can only work as a janitor in the school.

The general idea in the film is that we can’t help the disabled since their condition is irreversible. However, we can help them in various ways to make them more acceptable in the able society. This is clearly shown when James tries to teach some of his deaf students to speak.

The film illustrates the conflicts that could arise when “abled” people get into relationships with the disabled. In the case of the two love birds, Sarah and James,  conflict arise when they are on a date, and James cannot listen to his favorite music because Sarah wouldn’t share it with his pleasures. However, they reach into a consensus that James wouldn’t listen to his music. This clearly shows one of the ways of integrating the disabled as part of us is by making slight compromises. Generally, the film illustrates the ideal world where the disabled and the abled interact. It is relevant for this research since it shows how we can cope and incorporate the disabled into our lives.

Barden, O. (2018). Disability Media Studies. New York University Press.

The book tries to combine the fields of disability and media studies. The rationale behind this is to grapple with the complexities arising when the two fields are addressed separately. The book initiates interdisciplinary discussions by presenting a variety of essays and theories covering various topics. The range of interdisciplinary topics covered includes disability and media disability and race, disability and technology, disability and gender and disability, and the pop culture.

Also, the book cover issues regarding the civic participation of the disabled and their participation in media production. It also describes how some processes and products are disabling. For Instance, Tom Miller, in his chapter, elucidates how the electronics recycling industry is disabling to the citizens, but the media covers up.

The greatest strength of the book lies in its variety. Also, it criticizes the media for covering up for corporations that contribute to the disabling of people. By incorporating research on how disability relates to other fields, the book creates a chain link that illustrates how the various disciplines inter-relate. Moreover, it clearly shows that disability isn’t entirely innate, and anyone can be a victim. In general, the book is a great resource since it covers a broad area helping the reader acquire a broader perspective of the subject

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