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profoundly yours the abledbody blog

I spoke with NPR today on a show called Where We Live. The topic was perceptions of people with disabilities in the media. Apparently I did a good job but I could hardly hear John Dankosky, the radio host; they have a great producer team (Brianna and Catie) who got me some questions in advance, which probably saved the segment. Next time I’ll drive up to the studio in Hartford. Anyway, after I spoke I was thinking about how film and television shows represent disability—both good and bad. A colleague wrote after hearing the piece and said a “good” example is Michael J. Fox’s role on The Good Wife. I agree. Another is RJ Mitte in Breaking Bad. Mitte has cerebral palsy and he even admits to making it seem worse than it is on TV, for effect. It’s not like people with disabilities can just make their symptoms appear on the ... keep reading »
Wednesday’s New York Times Well column, written by Tara Parker-Pope, talks about celebrities and mental health. It’s a timely topic, as Ms. Pope points out. Lately, celebrities from Britney Spears to Dennis Quaid have spoken out on behalf of medical conditions in an effort to raise awareness, which in turn, also makes good tabloid copy. As many of you might have picked up on, there’s more prevalance of disabilities on primetime TV, particularly non-verbal learning disabilities. Grey’s Anatomy (perhaps in an effort to boost lagging ratings) has just introduced a surgeon, Virginia Dixon, who has Asperger’s Syndrome — a form of high-functioning autism — and a popular resident, Izzie Stevens, may have a brain tumor. Boston Legal’s Denny Crane is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Several other primetime characters are also suspect of falling somewhere along the autism spectrum, including Dr. Temperance Brennan of Bones, two children of Vic ... keep reading »
This just in from Webware: “In a move to make videos easier to understand without volume or for the hard of hearing, YouTube has given users the option of embedding closed captions.” This is great news for the deaf and hard of hearing; YouTube has 34% market share according to ComScore, and I’m betting this figure doesn’t include much of the deaf population. And this might not change if video makers don’t choose to add captions to their videos – I’m guessing not many will, unless they understand the added benefit of captions for those with disabilities, or even non-English speakers. There are a small handful of content providers already including closed captioning in their videos, including CNET, MIT, and the BBC. It would be great if broadcast networks (ABC, Fox, etc.) would do the same. Do we really need more regulations to make this happen? Just do the right thing! Now ... keep reading »

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