From the Editor
by Vicki Leeper
Every now and then we get a comment on our social media accounts that gives us pause. An example was a reaction to a Go Fund Me for someone with a disability. This person had died, and someone who didn’t know him personally started a Go Fund Me page to raise funds for a memorial park bench in his name.
Although on the surface this sounds like a noble thing to do, it took us a day to really think through the response. We share the concern this consumer had over someone “using” that persons disability in order to raise the funds. In reality, the disability shouldn’t play into whether a person deserved a memorial park bench or not.
Instead, disability is often used as a subject for emotional appeal rather than for real, positive change. A disability stirs a “warm and fuzzy” response as we innately want to help. We have all cringed at the “news” stories of some person with a disability being “allowed” by coaches, players, and officials to score a basket or make a touchdown – simply because of a disability and not in an inclusive environment.
DAC NW has strived and had some success in altering such portrayals. A local medical office had commercials portraying disabilities as awful – cue horror movie scenes – in order to sell their treatments. We successfully got them to change this portrayal to something much less negative. But there still continues to be a strong societal bias toward the feelings people thinking they are making a positive difference for someone or something that they see as needy. It takes more than just organizations such as ours to make a change in these attitudes. If we all share our concerns about the negative stereotyping that can happen, even when intentions are good, we can educate against this generalized response to a pretty vague portrayal of disability. A perfect quote from a local college student after learning about disability in the media, “I did not understand how angry it may make someone with a disability to be called an inspiration.” No one wants to be your inspiration porn.
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