Is the media’s portrayal of disability a help or a hindrance?
Published by University of Leicester Press Office for University of Leicester in Communities and also in Education
To what extent can the media help us think differently about disability in ‘Broken’ Britain?
Does the media’s role help or hinder the campaigns of activists and charities aimed at influencing government policies that affect disabled people?
The University of Leicester’s Department of Media and Communication is hosting an event at Embrace Arts in the Richard Attenborough Centre on November 9 which will examine these issues and provide an agenda for future research in this area.
‘Mediating Disability in Broken Britain’ brings together local policy-makers, media, politicians and activists in a one-day symposium examining the media representation of disability issues against the backdrop of the government’s ‘Big Society’ project and welfare reform. The venue, Embrace Arts, is one of only two purpose-built fully inclusive arts centres in the East Midlands.
The symposium is part of the Festival of Social Science, run by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The festival runs from November 3 to 10.
In order to set an agenda for future research, the event will draw on the perspectives of local and national politicians, disability charities, activists, and social science researchers. Confirmed speakers include:
• Anne McGuire MP (Shadow Minister for Disabled People)
• Robert Adamson (Liberal Democrat Disability Association)
• Councillor Manjula Sood (Leicester City Council)
• Sue Marsh (Broken of Britain)
• Marc Bush (Head of Research and Policy, Scope)
• Julie Howell (Giraffe Sense Mentoring)
• Filippo Trevisan (University of Glasgow)
• Dr Anna Claydon (University of Leicester)
• Dr Emma Briant (University of Glasgow)
• Dr Vicky Tolfrey (Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sports)
• Jayant Mistry (former paralympian)
The event has been organised by Dr Paul Reilly, a University expert in politics and new media with a specific interest in how social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be used by disability activists to enhance their communication strategies.
Dr Reilly commented: “We hope the event will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to debate how the media can reframe disability in such a way as to empower disabled people and help these groups shape future policy-making.
“The media framing of disability has arguably become even more crucial as public spending cuts and reforms to benefits such as Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Employment Support Allowance (ESA) begin to affect disabled people. Recent campaigns to highlight disabled people’s issues such as #spartacusreport have appeared to gather momentum in online spaces rather than through traditional media outlets.
“The news media is often criticised by these groups for its negative stereotyping of disabled people, and television depictions of disability often appear tokenistic or circumstance specific – for example, the Paralympics.”
The event will be held at Embrace Arts at the Richard Attenborough Centre, University of Leicester campus, Lancaster Road, Leicester, on November 9 from 10.30am to 4pm.
Contact Dr Paul Reilly at firstname.lastname@example.org for details of how to register.
For further details about the symposium see the website: http://www.esrc.ac.uk/news-and-events/events/festival/festival-events/specific-2012/mediating-disability.aspx
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