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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Strategic CSR - Children's TV

The article in the url below tackles an important subject -- the extent to which disabled characters are represented in children's TV programs. Although disabled people are integrated throughout society, they generally do not appear in children's TV shows in most countries:
 
"Fireman Sam and How to Train Your Dragon feature the only disabled characters currently on long-running children's television franchises. Other characters crop up here and there – the Disney Channel introduced double-amputee Aussie explorer, Wildlife Will to its Doc McStuffins show, and it featured wheelchair user Johnny McBride … in The Proud Family – but both appeared for one episode only. The BBC has a history of disabled characters, from Grange Hill's Rachel Burns with cerebral palsy, … to Balamory's wheelchair user Penny Pocket. The broadcaster also has its visual impairment show Melody, and sign-language show, Magic Hands."
 
In the UK the BBC takes this seriously, partly due to its remit as a public broadcaster. That same sense of responsibility does not appear to extend to the commercial channels:
 
"Camilla Arnold, creative director of Flashing Lights Media, the deaf-led company behind Magic Hands, argues that while the BBC is fulfilling its duties, no other channels are matching this. '[It's] shocking – we're in the 21st century! The other channels need to catch up as there's a definite lack of representation.'"
 
This is important because, apart from the purpose of educating people more generally about various disabilities, it is essential that children are educated using media that reflect the society in which they live and are growing up:
 
"… the Disney Channel, Zodiak Kids and Nickelodeon do not have a single current children's show with a prominent disabled character. FremantleMedia however, (responsible for the likes of The X Factor), does have its comedy series Strange Hill High which is aired on CBBC and includes Samia Speed (witty and in a wheelchair), school caretaker Murdock (with a bionic hand) and hero Mitchell Tanner (living with ADHD). But given that one in 20 children in the UK have a disability, this is pretty scant representation."
 
It is easy to see how the issues that are raised in addressing this imbalance can apply to other consequences of our infatuation with perfection:
 
"The need for better representation, says Philip Connolly, policy and communications manager at Disability Rights UK, comes from 'seeing people like ourselves on-screen. "It is like an acknowledgement or recognition that we are all human. We need to get away from this idea of 'perfection', the handsome prince and beautiful princess – these stories have a powerful grip on the imagination and how children come to see the world.'"
 
Take care
David
 
David Chandler & Bill Werther
 
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Children's TV pretends disability doesn't exist
By Tim Smedley
July 28, 2015
The Guardian Sustainable Business