Media representation has become an important means of connection and unity amongst various minority groups in today’s society. In my post, Just Like Me I wrote about the different stereotypes in the media, and also had the privilege of interviewing two Bloorview ambassadors who are currently youth advocates in the disabled community. I hope you can take a moment to read and reflect on their lived experiences on how they confront personal and systemic ableism within their communities.
As a parent and advocate for Bella, I continue to seek opportunities to enhance the voice of disabled people in my own community. Disability should not be seen as a loss or limitation, rather disability representation means including people with the visible disabilities (those who are deaf, blind, have amputations) and also with invisible disabilities (like epilepsy, learning disabilities). We need to see disability as a model where we learn to conceptualize it, talk about it, and work with it and how it is represented in our thinking.
Over the past few years the Holland Bloorview ambassador program has provided our family with opportunities to be part of companies and businesses who are choosing to shift the media landscape to include disability in the picture. It is important that the disabled community is represented accurately. The media has promoted and reinforced both positive and negative stereotypes about disabled people. Ensuring that positive and realistic portrayals will not only help make disability part of reality, but also help change the way people view disability. The development of ads, commercials, TV shows, and movies have a hand in influencing how disabled people are perceived by simply focusing on the person rather than their impairment.
We recently had the opportunity to be part of a photoshoot with Canadian Tire and Party City in their Halloween promotions. It was a great experience to see how these Canadian companies are beginning to take the first steps in portraying disabled people accurately. Check out some behind the scenes pictures, and a few of the final products!
The media can be a powerful tool in raising awareness, countering stigma and misinformation to change misconceptions to present disabled people for who they are, as they are. But trust me, there is always more they can do to effectively integrate the disabled voice in their brand development and also educating themselves on how their actions, words and behaviours can actively raise awareness that disabled people are part of society.
So, how does this affect you? And what can you do?
In lieu of the Halloween season, I’d like to help you think about Ways To Make Halloween Inclusive For All Kids Of All Abilities. In this post I wrote in 2019, I shared an interview I was part of in the Huffington Post Canada that shares a variety of ways that we can all make Halloween inclusive for people who choose to celebrate.
- Consider non-food alternatives to traditional Halloween candy to eliminate food allergies and feeding challenges.
- Reduce triggers that can cause anxiety such as unexpected loud noises and movements, focusing on fun rather than fear.
- Foster creative costumes that are safe and inclusive by leaving culturally insensitive, racist and sexist stereotypes at the grave.
- Create a physically accessible trick-or-treating environment that removes obstacles limiting sensory triggers, steps and curbs.
Halloween isn’t easy for every child, and you can easily do your part by creating an accessible Halloween for families on your street who want to be included. My family and partner in crime at Play Beyond The Label, were recently invited to a Treat Accessibly event in partnership with the Holland Bloorview Hospital. The Padulo Family has started this movement to share with people that an average family can work together with the community, private sector, non-profits, and government to make a difference. Check out some snapshots from the event:
So, if you and your family celebrate Halloween this year, I invite you to do your part by trying any or all of these Treat Accessibly tips below... and don't forget to get your free lawn sign from their website!
Curious to see what the Haefele family is up to on Halloween?
What will Bella’s accessible costume will look like?