I always hold my breath when it comes to ITV’s handling of disability as programming usually sets my teeth on edge due to the narrative usually adopted.
So, after watching my daily fix of Emmerdale, and I saw the programme’s title was ‘Against The Odds’. Wow, I thought, maybe this is an actual look at the root cause as to why people with disabilities are being subjected to hate… well as much as a populist programme such as ITV’s Tonight can and will.
The programme focused on the positive aspects of three people interviewed – Mark, with Down Syndrome, Andy, with a severe language disorder and Fleur a budding Special Olympics athlete. Living independently, getting a job and winning medals.
All good stuff.
What the programme didn’t address was why people with learning difficulties are being targeted for harassment and violence in 2014, often due to the media itself perpetuating the Government’s rhetoric that people with disabilities i.e. those on benefits are nothing but scroungers – jeez, thanks media!
The reporting, throughout on the whole was fairly balanced insight of both the interviewees and the parents/carers to having their say. Then the clanger! Right at the end and slipped back into normie patronising speak, when the narrator turned around and said Fleur, who had just won a running medal, had ‘done her parents proud…’ WTH?!? Not the hours of hard training and dedication that the lady herself had put into to make HERSELF proud! No, her achievement, as is usually the case for a disabled person is attributed, to the parents, carers, organisation – not the actual disabled person themselves. It’s maddening! Would Paula Radcliffe or Usain bolt Bolt be talked about in such terms after winning a medal? Attributed to their parents or trainer?! No!
I truly believe that when you have disabled people being given an actual voice, rather than it being channeled through a parent, a carer or journalist, there will be equality and acceptance. When we get over the them and us mentality, when you have disabled people making mainstream programming including their own voices, instead of being spoken for and not discussed in such condensing terms, will we see something akin to true acceptance of disabled people in society.
Rant over, I’m off to make a cuppa x
You can watch the full programme here – http://www.itv.com/news/2014-09-18/tonight-against-the-odds/