Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Daniel J. Vance’s ‘Disabilities’ celebrates 10th anniversary

The 10th anniversary of Daniel J. Vance’s column, “Disabilities,” is marked by an exceptional segment in which he discusses stereotyped portrayals of people with disabilities as either victims or superheroes:
“In general, the news media have a recurring tendency to portray people with disabilities as being superheroes or victims rather than as real people. As for superheroes, you often hear them saying accomplished people with disabilities are ‘inspirational’ or ‘courageous’ when most would prefer being seen as just plain “people’ whose accomplishments merited attention because of the accomplishment itself and not because of any disability.
“The news media portray people as victims when saying someone ‘suffers’ from a disability or is “confined” to a wheelchair. As for the latter, people using wheelchairs aren’t ‘confined’ to anything. Their wheelchair frees them up to get around. They would be confined if they didn’t have a wheelchair. What’s so hard to understand about that?
“Rather than perpetuate superhero and victim stereotypes, I try best I can to write the story from the person with the disability’s perspective and portray that person as a unique individual simply going through a different experience than most. I want column readers to acquire a realistic feel for what different people with disabilities face and I want to break down those stereotypes.”
In spite of sometimes referring as “superpowers” to my Aspergian tendencies, I bring a similar concern for responsible and respectful media portrayals of people with disabilities when editing the language of submitted press releases.

In 2010 Vance interviewed and wrote about me as an editor who has Asperger’s syndrome. I think he portrayed me fairly and respectfully and I’ve enjoyed reading several of his other columns as well.

1 comment:

  1. Good choice for a column to review. -- Daniel J. Vance.


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