Is the Gimp on Your TV Just a Wannabe? Meet I AM PWD

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Part of the joy of traveling as a person with a disability is to give real people in far off places a chance to interact with - and be surprised by - real, normal disabled people like us.

Part of the frustration is encountering persistent stereotypes.

The question could be asked, "Who perpetuates these stereotypes?" At least to some degree it may be writers and actors who are not disabled and yet portray our "reality" with all the authority of mass media.

Certainly you do not need to be [fill-in-the-blank] to write about or play a [fill-in-the-blank] but in a world where PwD have never has access to the power of media were do role models come from?

  • The U.N. estimates that there are 650 million people in the world living with a disability; the US Census says there are 56 million Americans with disabilities. They remain virtually invisible in media.
  • 20% of Americans between the ages of 5 and 64 are living with a disability. They are represented by less than 2% of characters on television.
  • Only one-half of one percent of words spoken on television are spoken by a person with a disability.
  • In film and television 56% of background performers with disabilities earn less than $1000 each year.
  • Despite the ADA regulations and the Producer/Union policies of non-discrimination and harassment, over one-third of PWDs felt they had encountered some form of discrimination in the workplace--not being cast for a role or being refused an audition because of their disability.
  • Over one-third of PWDs report that a reasonable accommodation would help them in their work, but nearly two-thirds never asked for an accommodation because they believed employers would be reluctant to hire them. Many performers are unwilling to be candid about their disability for fear of being viewed as an object of pity and incapable of doing the job.
  • While there are several national journalists associations addressing the needs and interests of journalists of color and those in the LGBT community, there remains a void for journalists with disabilities....even within these existing associations.
  • In 1997, the UK's Broadcasters' Disability Network (BDN) brought together major broadcasters to explore and address disability issues of recruitment and retainment at media outlets. They subsequently produced the "Disability Manifesto 2002" published by these major broadcast entities, with public commitments made by their Chief Executives. In the US, no such initiative of this kind has taken place.

*The findings above are taken from the Screen Actors Guild Employment of Performers with Disabilities in the Entertainment Industry research study by Olivia Raynor, Ph.D. and Katharine Hayward, Ph.D., M.P.H. from the National Arts and Disability Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, in May, 2005, and from the Broadcasters' Disability Network, Manifesto 2002.


Source:

I AM PWD


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