* Guinness commercial

This Guinness TV commercial shows a group of friends playing wheelchair basketball.  At the end of the commercial all but one of the players get up out of their wheelchair and tell the one friend still in a wheelchair that they will be back next week.  The music and words provide a theme of inspiration, mateship and loyalty, and then link this to having a Guinness beer.

There is a little bit of inspirational porn about this commercial but I also feel this commercial makes it look like that you should be rewarded (with a beer!) for including someone with a disability.  I feel that the makers of this commercial think that you are doing a good deed if you are including someone, so need to be rewarded, rather than it being seen as a natural right of a person to be included.

* Nike commercial

In a similar vain to the Guinness commercial, this Nike ad falls into the category of inspirational porn. The athlete in the commercial gives all the excuses for not wanting to participate in physical activity and then at the end you notice that the athlete is in a wheelchair – the byline of ‘no excuses’ is then used. It implies that if a person with a disability can do it then you should be motivated to do it too.

It is disappointing that two very well known brands – Nike and Guinness – utilise the concept of disability in this way. It would be good if companies such as these used images of disability in their commercials in a value neutral manner – that is the person with a disability is not portrayed as ‘inspirational’ or ‘exceptional’ but rather as a natural occurrence in life – reflecting that all populations are diverse.

* Unexpected joy of having a son with disabilities

http://aww.ninemsn.com.au/family/parenting/8656654/the-unexpected-joy-of-having-a-son-with-disabilities

This article was in the Australian Women’s Weekly this year, with the target audience of women with families.  The article could be seen as a feel good story showing that having a child with a disability can ‘provide joy’ to the family.  Originally the family was ‘devastated’ that their child wasn’t ‘normal’ but highlighted that he is a joy in their life.

The aim of the article is not to educate the readers about disability but to provide inspiration  – that despite having a child with a disability, a family can be happy.  If the son did not have a disability then the article wouldn’t have been written.  Rather than seeing a child with a disability as a natural part of life, the article uses this child to ‘teach’ us about love, acceptance and families.  The media plays a large part in how people think about the world – it is a pity this magazine believes that people who have a disability should be seen as ‘exceptional’ in this manner.

One positive note in the article was the quote from the parent saying ‘I don’t need to fix him’.  This could educate readers that children who have a disability do not need to be treated or ‘fixed’ from a medical point of view.

The article also briefly mentioned the mothers worry about the future for her son – it would have been a more informative article if the author had focussed more on the needs of carers or the lack of appropriate care options available to adults with a profound disabilty (although the two links attached to this online article did link to websites about carers and the new DisabilityCare funding).

* Newlyweds with mental disabilities fight for right to live together

http://aww.ninemsn.com.au/family/relationships/8656407/newlyweds-with-mental-disabilities-fight-for-right-to-live-together

This is a second article from the Australian Women’s Weekly but unlike the previous one (‘Unexpected joy of having a son with disabilities’) this article presents the facts of a story rather than making it an inspirational story.

The article originated in the US which may account for the use of the word ‘mental disabilities’ in the title.  It would have been appropriate for the magazine to change the title to reflect the use of appropriate language in Australia – the words ‘intellectual disability’ are more appropriate or even ‘newlyweds who have an intellectual disability’.

The facts of this article show that discrimination against people who have a disability is always happening.  The group home has taken a one size fits all approach to the people they are supporting,  “claiming that by definition people requiring the services of a group home aren’t equipped to do so“.  This medical model definition places everyone in this group home as having the same needs, and being inflexible to individual differences.

Hopefully people reading this article will see this as discriminatory and take the view that all people who have a disability have the right to be treated as an individual capable of making decisions and having goals in life.

What’s best for the child? SBS Insight program

http://www.sbs.com.au/insight/episode/watchonline/534/What-s-Best-For-The-Child

This video was shown on SBS Insight program in April 2013. The show is a discussion about how an intellectual disability may affect a parent’s capacity to raise a child.  The show hears from parents and their children  and child protection workers – showing both the first hand perspectives of the parents and their children as well as the ‘expert’ opinion form child protection workers.

* The kids will be all right

Click this link to read article – 20130318_151607

This article, The kids will be all right’ is from The Age newspaper dated 18 March 2013.   The article is about a parent who has a son with Aspergers.  As a result of her experiences sending her son to school she has written a book about Aspergers targeting her son’s peer group.

The article highlights the lived experiences of this mother taking her child to start school.  The decisions she needs to make as a parent include whether to publicly disclose her son’s Aspergers along with the fears of her son being accepted.

It is good to see this type of article in The Age, showing that a parents voice is important to be heard in the community.  The goal of this mother is for Aspergers to be seen as an ordinary part of life in a school, just like asthma or a nut allergy.  This highlights that education is the key to achieving this goal – her book is contributing to the schools ability to teach about diversity.  Students are able to read books about the lives of other students and themselves, seeing the differences as an everyday part of life – not a disability or something lesser.  The mother says she wants her son ‘to be celebrated’.

(Apologies for the scanning – you will need to rotate the picture!)