Week 5 – Participation, opportunities and Obstacles

Disability was the focus of this week in digital literacies. Within the first couple paragraphs of the weeks reading, the term disability was defined as something that is not only a medical and physical impairment, but is also a social barrier towards achieving goals. If this were true then a large portion of society would be classified as disabled in some way as everyone faces adversary in their attempts to have a successful life. A definition that I would suggest is to classify a physical ailment as a disability and those who are healthy but have trouble reaching their potential due to social barriers as disadvantaged. This is a more realistic way to create accurate statistics that allow for further development to help these people. The reading also touches on the lack of media that acknowledges the disabled in their discussions and therefore limits the amount of content they create that can be consumed by disabled individuals (eg. sing language in TV shows). However, they do not mention the statistics that come along with these media corporations not including those forms of consumption. As only 357,000 (Disability statistics 2017) people in Australia are blind or have low vision, the funding for shows must be prioritised to create the best possible show for the large majority of Australians who can consume the media in the intended way. Budgets for Australian TV and movies are already smaller than their American counterparts, making it hard to devote funding to creating the content easier for those with disabilities. As the content creator finishes off their show or movie, they wish for it to be seen in the way they created it. Putting a sign language box in the corner of the screen throughout the show can be seen to distract and take away from the experience for some viewers. This reduced the amount of support for the show and therefore reduces the funding they can receive for a follow up season or film. I could suggest for the construction of a free to air TV channel dedicated to distributing popular media with aids for those with disabilities. Government funding and an individual channel allows for shows to be viewed in their intended way for the majority of the population, without excluding minorities.



Picture of two crutches used to aid disabled or injured people

It is important to have multiple and varying views expressed onto society. One of these could be someone who is disabled and is unable to work, forcing them to use a wheelchair. Being able to contrast these different views allows for a better understanding of what could be improved in society to allow for further participation in not only media, but in developing an Australia that is fit for all types of people. This is mentioned in the weeks reading as well as The Canadian Journal of Communications article on the role of media to display disabilities in their content. (CJC 1995)


Marilyn Dahl, 1995, ‘The Role of the Media in Promoting Images of Disability – Disability as Metaphor: The Evil Crip’, Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol 18, No 1

Ellis, K and Goggin, G (2015): “Disability Media Participation: Opportunities, Obstacles and Politics”, Media International Australia, v154n1, pp 178-88.

Australian Network On Disability, 2017, ‘Disability Statistics’, viewed August 17th, <https://www.and.org.au/pages/disability-statistics.html&gt;


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