Disability Representation in the Media

Over at Life at iLevel, our Q Roll Models and brand ambassadors share their day-to-day experiences as wheelchair users. Topics range from accessibility to mindset to education and everything in between. While we want to amplify the voices of those we serve, we agree that disability representation needs to extend beyond wheelchair manufacturers. Our Q Roll Models and brand ambassadors share their thoughts about past and present disability representation in the media.

Disability Representation and Caregiver Burnout

Tim Shin in his power wheelchair

Like most people, Tim Shin enjoys watching a good television show. His most recent series of choice is Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, which is an hour-long ensemble dramedy airing on NBC. Although disability isn’t the focus of the series, the writers and actors explore disability representation through Zoey’s father who has progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a neighbor who has agoraphobia and a student who is deaf. One theme they touch upon is caregiver burnout, as experienced by Zoey’s mother. Tim says that Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist fills a unique space that addresses disability from an authentic perspective that he loves and appreciates.

Common Perceptions of People with Disabilities

Isabella Bullock elevated in her power wheelchair

For years, disabled characters on television and in movies were often played by people who were able-bodied, making the representation inauthentic. Isabella mentions that other disabled characters were shown as someone who needed to be cured of his or her disability to live a fulfilled life. Once again, this demonstrates the perception of how able-bodied individuals view disabilities and forgoes the true experiences of the disability community. One thing many viewers with disabilities can agree on is that although disability representation in the media has improved over the last few years, there’s still a long way to go. Isabella talks about the importance of disability representation for those who are watching television or playing with toys. She ends her article by asking questions about taking steps in the future to normalize people with disabilities in the media.

Heroes with Disabilities

Morgan Steward in his power wheelchair

Officer Morgan shares his experience growing up with characters with disabilities represented on television. Just like there are many types of disabilities, there are a variety of characters in the media that represent them. Morgan discusses characters with physical disabilities, mental disabilities and illnesses. His favorite character with disabilities is Professor X from X-Men. Read Morgan’s blog to learn more about Professor X, why Officer Morgan looks up to him and how he’s a relatable figure.

What are your thoughts on disability representation in the media?


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