Q&A: Breaking Down the Disabled Underrepresentation in Mainstream Media


In the “Disability and Media” course that she teaches, University of Virginia media studies assistant professor Elizabeth Ellcessor has been pleased to see her students gaining a vocabulary for talking about disability with respect, and becoming aware of lingering stereotypes in the mainstream media.

“While disability remains underrepresented, it is actually a very important theme for understanding a wide range of media content,” Ellcessor said. “Superhero films, popular documentaries, Oscar winners, teen dramas and reality TV all routinely deal with themes such as mental illness, acquired disability, bodily difference and the pursuit of (able-bodied) health.”

Students in Ellcessor’s course consider a range of issues, from disability onscreen to amateur creators, the history of closed captioning and changes in streaming media access.

“Disability in media is a growing area of research,” Ellcessor said, “and we’re lucky that UVA is one of a handful of universities where courses on this topic are available for undergraduates.” (READ MORE)

Source: UVA Today (Whitelaw Reid)