Our Stories: Representation in the media

Dan’s Story

“Inclusion will encourage a greater understanding of the many variant forms of disability”

Why does media representation matter to the disabled community? Ask them! The issue is that most media are failing to ask and to that end, it paints an incorrect picture of their lives, fails to represent them at all, and enforces stereotypes.

The importance of inclusion cannot be underestimated. If done with training, open eyes and minds, the prospects for disability and media partnerships are tremendous and not just from an inclusive perspective. Financially the community has a potential spending power of over 249 billion a year that surely would encourage advertisers, sponsors, broadcasters, etc to engage and entertain new talent and ideas.

Inclusion will encourage a greater understanding of the many variant forms of disability and it encourages the reader/viewer to engage with an unbiased mind. Free from decades-old stereotypes and tokenism, the community will be free to show and tell their lives in an unbiased reality to a global audience. They will no longer be on the outside, inclusive practice is morally correct for every community.

From a disability point of view, media inclusion in all forms will make everyone feel connected to a part of the larger community. It is pivotal to have a sense of belonging for such a diverse group. Representation allows differing communities to feel validated and allows expressions of opinions that are usually spoken over or spoken for. It’s time for the media to listen, learn, and liaise.

The current landscape of media inclusion does nothing to normalise disability, nothing to show the everyday landscape of work, creativity, and social interactions. All these traits are obvious to those living with a disability and the families around them. Disabled people want to show that their lives are worth living, championing, and exploring. To that end, disabled talent needs to be engaged in all forms, every media.

There is a wealth of talent just waiting to show what they can do. A complete embrace of the true lives of those living with a disability will change everything forever. The labels that attach to disabled lives will be vanquished and like the Black Lives Matter movement, promote engagement, and allow the opportunities they seek creatively and socially to open. Words win wars, correct imagery sells. Inclusion is not a delusion, neither is it difficult. Let’s begin.

About Dan White. I am a very proud father to my wheelchair using, award winning daughter Emily. I am also a campaigner for carers, mental health & disability. I am a broadcaster, writer, columnist for several magazines, global speaker & member of the ITV diversity & inclusion committee. Inclusion & diversity are my passions along with fighting for an equal society where everyone has a voice & no-one is left behind. I am the creator of the Department of Ability comic and am working with a publisher on a set of new children’s books for a 2021 release.