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Representation of disabled people on television

From Susan Quick

Monday, 18 July 2011

I am currently writing a paper for a conference at Liverpool Hope University in September: The Transformative Difference: Disability, Culture and the Academy hosted by the Centre for Culture and Disability Studies. My paper will examine media exposure of disabled people. In what ways are we exposed?

I will analyse a week's soap operas. Are the actual statistics reflected in soap operas?

Nationally, in the UK, there are over ten million people with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability Around one in 20 children are disabled, compared to one in seven working age adults, and 50% of state-pensioners. Office for Disability Issues Family Resources
Survey 2008/9

Do you feel that the disabled community is adequately represented on television?

When we do appear in soaps, how are disabled people characterized? Is disability the key aspect of their personality? Or are they just characters who happen to be disabled?

There are lots of people in Hebden Bridge who write for soap operas. Would any of you be willing to talk to me? Was there a disabled character in episodes which you wrote? Were you given guidance as to how to represent the character's disability?

If you add our friends and relatives then the percentage of the population who have some connection with disability is vast. Before I became disabled - I'm head injured following a near fatal car accident in 1995 - my connection with disability was limited to an aunt crippled by polio in her twenties and a cousin with learning difficulties.

I lead Enabling Radio Drama. You can access our Facebook site. I would be very interested to discuss the experience of writers of soaps, either in person or by email.

I would also like to talk to other disabled people. Do you feel represented on television? Best wishes, Susan Quick