When television shows, advertisers, or filmmakers decide to feature a disabled character or write stories of disability & chronic illness, more often than not, it’s a disappointment. Typically, a “well” actor is cast as disabled, there’s very little background research done, & the level of misrepresentation in the end is grossly inaccurate. Also, let’s not ignore those horrendous illnesses with “invisible” symptoms. I have MS & fall into this category – not all people with MS are in a wheelchair, but in society, if you can’t SEE the disability, it’s not really there. This is upsetting for so many. Another key point: if you’re actually in the “biz” & you get sick or disabled, then you’re considered an uninsurable risk & are passed over as damaged goods. We must change this – hire more disabled actors, extras, directors, filmmakers, etc. plus experts & consultants to portray a more respectable truth. This will honor & benefit those talented artists who are so deserved of paid work, medical care, and acknowledgement of the work & as a human being. Plus, let’s open the eyes & better educate the “well” society about the victories & challenges in the disabled world via film & television.
** I submitted this to the epolicy.org forum for disabilities and the arts in June 2016 as part of a campaign with the National Endowment for the Arts.