Helping young people reach their goals.
Why aren't there more people with a disability in the media?
Posted: 17th May 2011
Mencap today released the results of a survey that says that 52 per cent of the British population are unable to name a high profile person with a disability that they have seen in the media, and that 99 per cent of people were unable to correctly name someone with a learning disability.
Stephen Hawking, David Blunkett and Stephen Fry were the most commonly named high profile people in the poll and Susan Boyle was the only person named with a learning disability.
People with a disability aren’t seen enough in the media, and people with a learning disability are rarely seen unless it’s a story saying ‘let’s feel sorry for them’. Learning disability is an ‘invisible’ disability. It’s something that people don’t understand because they can’t see it. A learning disability is caused by the way the brain develops and I think that more people would understand what it is if they saw people with a disability in the media.
People with a learning disability do have talent. Mencap’s Viewpoint’s magazine’s Hotlist shows that, but what we see on television is not representative. People with a learning disability deserve a chance to be seen, and with the right support they can be on TV and the radio and in the newspaper. I saw Tommy Jessop in Coming Down the Mountain. He was brilliant; he is such a great actor. I would love to see more actors with a learning disability.
For someone like Susan Boyle, who has a learning disability, to become really successful is fantastic; she is a really good role model for people. She is talking openly about her disability which is really important, and obviously it is something she wants to talk about. At her audition for Britain’s Got Talent people laughed at her when she went out onstage but as soon as she opened her mouth to sing, people were like ‘wow’.
If you heard more positive stories, it would help raise Mencap’s view of learning disability. It would help to see people with a learning disability as they are – people who can achieve things, can have friends and can lead a full and valued life. If there were more people with a learning disability in the media than peoples assumptions might change, attitudes might change.
What do you think?