How Does the Media Represent Disabilities

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How do the media represent disabilities? “Media coverage plays a crucial role in educating the public on disability issues” People are influenced by many media sources; these images affect our perceptions in many ways. What we see, hear and read in the media is often decided and influenced by a small group of decision makers. These editors, producers, programmers and budget-controllers are swayed by their own opinions of disability and what they believe will bring in audiences. They output dominant ideologies with which they mould society into obedience, shaping Britain in to a society who mostly agree with their hegemonic superiors. This way a piece of media does not challenge society's accepted values and way of life. An Ofcom report in December 2005 stated that the representation and portrayal of people with disabilities on television reported that “progress still remains slow” (1). A 2003 Labour Market Trends report estimated “19% of the working population to have a DDA-recognised disability” (2), estimating that within the media industry, disabled people make up only “2.3% of the workforce” (2). It is because of this low statistic in a media corporation, that disabilities are poorly represented. As a result the audience is fed certain stereotypes on those with disabilities; these stereotypes in turn have led to contemporary debate on whether it matches the reality. I will particularly be looking at the three most common stereotypes regarding disability. In order to investigate I looked at two televised media productions by two different broadcasters on the same disability; ‘Life’s too Short’ a sitcom series on the BBC, created and written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant based on Warwick Davis experiences of dwarfism, with Davis playing a fictionalized version of himself. The second media production was the observational documentary ‘Seven Dwarves’ a

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