In the UK both the BBC and Channel 4 have recently released new standards for incorporating disability into mainstream broadcasting. And for those of us who are both disabled and in media this looks like the beginning of the revolution we’ve been waiting for.
But there seems to be an ongoing detail that the big wigs and media execs seem to be missing, inclusion of persons with disability in the media will only work if we use stories involving creators and crew with disabilities on projects about humanity, not just about disability.
Think about the breakthrough it was when Sam in Casablanca was neither slave nor servant. We have to start seeing persons with disabilities as coffee shop attendants, single moms, crack addicts, and high powered leaders.
For some reason filmmakers have fallen into a fallacy that our role in programming can only revolve around disability.
But my life doesn’t revolve around my disability, so why should my role in stories but limited to my actions as a woman with a disability? The sooner we as a society can recognise that our experience as of living with limitations is as human and diverse as everyone else’s, the sooner we can begin to normalise disability.
As a writer I love to use disability as a metaphor for the human condition. But just as we are able to see women on screen who do mode than have babies and look stunning, we must start creating complex characters with disabilities who intrigue audiences not because they are disabled, but because they are fascinating creatures who bless us with insights about our own lives.
Stories are how we we find common ground with each other. Those of us with disabilities know that our stories are as complex and complicated as everyone else’s. We are increasingly part of stories which go beyond our disabilities. Incorporating into mainstream media means humanising stories because it’s a brave new world out there. Every Day.