Earlier this week fellow author John W. Quinn (Someone Like Me: An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy) proposed an interesting question during his weekly video blog. Why isn’t there a disability channel on television? He notes such a channel could help raise disability awareness. Now rather than relying on me to recount Quinn’s points, perhaps you should watch the video blog post.
Personally I prefer to see an entertainment company dedicated to disability programming versus an actual disability channel. The latter I feel risks segregation. Certainly people with disabilities and those closest to them will tune into a disability channel. Yet does this really work to spread disability awareness? After all, most likely these individuals already maintain knowledge about handicaps.
Instead I suggest an entertainment company dedicated to increasing disability awareness through an inclusive programming approach, distributing shows to already existing channels. Travel Channel’s Armed & Ready offers a model. People interested in travel will tune into the show. When they see Kevin Michael Connolly embarking on his many adventures despite having no legs, they will hopefully rethink what living with a disability means.
So imagine a group of individuals focused on taking the Armed & Ready strategy to new heights. Maybe the organization could find a chef who uses a wheelchair and pitch a cooking show to the Cooking Channel featuring said chef. Or, the group seeks stories involving athletes with disabilities. Record different documentaries on these athletes and pitch them to ESPN or other appropriate sporting networks.
Basically by appealing to a common trait or interest between people with disabilities and their able-bodied counterparts, disability awareness improves in effectiveness. Such a strategy I bet could reach more people than a segregated disability channel buried amongst many other cable channels. What do you think? Sound off with a comment below!