Culture, Entertainment and Media

This page features disability news on Culture, Entertainment and Media from the Debrief Library. See also news on other subjects.



How Can Art Reach Out and Touch Us? A primer on haptic tech innovation and new possibilities for access in dance. (Jan, Laurel Lawson)

The disabled villain: why sensitivity reading can’t kill off this ugly trope. “For centuries, fictional narratives have used outer difference to telegraph inner monstrosity. As someone who uses a wheelchair, I’ve learned you can’t just edit out a few slurs or bad words to fix this – it’s often baked deep into the story” (Mar, the Guardian)

On (Not) Discovering Disability in the World of Jane Austen. “Disabled characters are present in Austen’s novels, but largely invisible in her cinematic remakes” (Jan)

Nurse! My pen! Hanif Kureishi’s hospital musings and the art of sickbed writing. (Jan, the Guardian)

Am I ugly? a super-cute video of small figures getting around accessibility, assistive tech and stigma. (No visual description, Jan, Sylvanian Drama, TikTok)

The Group Fighting for Disability Justice in British Museums and Galleries (Nov, Timeout)

Being Seen a new book by Elsa Sjunneson. “A Deafblind writer and professor explores how the misrepresentation of disability in books, movies, and TV harms both the disabled community and everyone else.” (Nov, Simon and Schuster)

Curating Access a new book, edited by Amanda Cachia on disability art activism and creative accommodation. (Sep, Routledge)

Cripple Punk: The Disabled Young People Smashing Ableism: “Spiked wheelchairs, studs and cigarettes – cpunk is about rejecting society's ‘inspiration porn’ narrative of physical disability.”:

“We need to see more disabled people behaving badly. And no, I don’t mean blind people littering or wheelchair users shoplifting. I mean we need to see more disabled people behaving like everyone else. We need to see more disabled people smoking, drinking and sticking up a middle finger. More disabled people who are angry, bitter and abjectly un-inspirational – because frankly, there are a lot of us. So where have we all been hiding?” (Jul)

Disabled musicians turning up the volume radio show featuring artists with disabilities. (no transcript, Jun, BBC)

Changing the narrative on disability: is representation in books getting better? Article sees increasing representation in children's literature but not “the same commitment to representation in the adult literature sector, where they say disability is still seen as a niche topic.” (May, the Guardian)

‘Deaf Utopia’ review – Nyle DiMarco’s memoir is enlightening, depending on how (and if) you read it (Apr, Limping Chicken)

Adaptive fashion: the $400bn opportunity to embrace Disability inclusion (Feb, MBS Group)

Geelong, an Australian ensemble of disabled actors, wins one of the world’s richest theatre prizes (Mar, the Guardian)

A collection of poems by Disabled and d/Deaf Poets Curated by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. I enjoyed Sick4Sick by torrin a. greathouse, which opens:

“I think my lover’s cane is sexy. The way they walk

like a rainstorm stumbles slow across the landscape.” (

Latest issue of Ability Magazine features the actor Greg Grunberg and articles from around the world. (Feb)

Review of Disability Studies special issue on disability, film and media. A wide ranging set of articles from self-presentation on instagram, radio in Kenya and disability metaphors in Korean news. (Feb)

A Different Narrative: Text within Disability Art. "Help the Normals". (Feb, Disability Arts)


The Drummer Who Reminds People That ‘You Can Play Music as You Like’ “Miguel Tomasín, one of the few professional musicians with Down syndrome, has brought attention to the artistic visions of people with developmental disabilities, with his band releasing over 100 albums.” (Dec, New York Times)


Artists unmask disabilities in push to break barriers and challenge attitudes around music in Australia. (Mar, ABC News)

Revamped national cultural policy includes a national arts and disability plan. (Jan, NME)

From homeless and busking to the main stage: Rodney Bell’s wheelchair dance tours Australia | Dance | The Guardian (Aug, the Guardian)


The catwalk with a difference: adaptive fashion comes to Azerbaijan. “An enterprising student and a designer want to make attractive clothes that disabled people can wear – and model too” (Sep, the Guardian)


Crip Rave Is the Revolutionary Collective Prioritising Accessibility. “There was the disorientation of the music, but also the vibrations, which left me sensing my pain in a different way ... I left that night with a new relationship to my body.” (May, RA)

Acting the part: A thematic analysis of the experiences of actors with disabilities. “Many actors experience inadequate accommodations, inaccessible work sites, stigma, and being limited to disability specific roles. As a result, actors with disabilities have implemented strategies to improve their success when faced with social and physical barriers in the industry.” (Mar, Canadian Journal of Disability Studies)

Alt-Text & Ambiguity A Poetic Approach to Image Description by Alex Haagaard and Liz Jackson (Apr, Akimbo)

#CripRitual exhibition of art exploring disability culture and ritual (#CripRitual)


The European Court of Human Rights declined to condemn France for censuring a video featuring adults and children with Down Syndrome. (Sep, ADF International)

Implementing the Right of People with Disabilities to Participate in Cultural Life across Five European Countries: Narratives and Counternarratives. Research in Austria, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Sweden:

“[This article] contrasts official narratives, which highlight good practices and steps taken to improve access to culture, with counternarratives that reveal a fragmentary approach to cultural participation of persons with disabilities, persisting barriers, limited recognition of artists with disabilities, and the perpetuation of stigma and stereotypes.” (Jun, Journal of Human Rights Practice)

A Narrative Literature Review of Barriers and Facilitators to Cultural Participation by People with Disabilities. Covers legislation and policies, funding and services, attitudes, accessibility and gaps in consultation.

"While adopting binding accessibility standards is important, to the extent that this results in a checklist approach to addressing barriers, it is unlikely to be sufficient. This is especially so given that existing guidelines can restrict themselves to addressing particular disability types and that many barriers occur in the realm of attitudes and lack of knowledge of a range of actors and in approaches to education. Moreover, standards alone are unlikely to address the need for support and interaction that seems necessary to facilitate access and participation, particularly for some groups such as people with [intellectual disabilities]." (Feb, Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research)


Short video feature on Julia Ayen a Refugee artist “proving to the world that disability is not inability” (Jun, Citizen TV Kenya)


A Talk with Reema Humood: Multiple Sclerosis and its Literary Representation.

"The love of caretakers who don’t mean to suffocate you, but they do with their worries and fears, and the injustice and discrimination against people like me, rejecting us, excluding us, denying us the right to be…I discovered there was ‘us’ against ‘them’, the sick ones and the healthy ones, each group gazing at each other, afraid. Any attempt at meshing together, at understanding each other, stops and sinks in muddy waters" (Mar, Arab Lit)


People with disabilities behind plushie concert craze: “the toys are made by a group of some 400 people with disabilities in a factory in Puebla.” (Sep, La Prensa Latina)

New Zealand

Stay home club “Making remote portraits of New Zealanders in isolation—using only their phone cameras.” (May, New Zealand Geographic)


Profile of Alishba, an activist and artist. (Oct, World Down Syndrome Day)

South Africa

Athenkosi Kwinana breaks the stigma about Persons Living with Albinism (PLWA) through art (Feb, Biz Community)


Exploring world monuments through Spain’s Museum for the Blind. Short video. (Dec, Haben Girma)

Sri Lanka

Atrocities of the Civil War Through the Eyes of Artists profile of artists with disabilities. (Ground Views)


Thematic Exhibition of Artistic Creations by People with Disabilities art-work and promotion of easy-read materials. (Family of Joy Social Welfare Foundation)

United Kingdom

Barbara Hulme shares a showcase of watercolour portrait paintings titled 'Men's Health' – highlighting their disability/ health stories. (Feb, Disability Arts Online)

Unfinish’d sympathy: can literature get over reading disability morally? (Sep, the Guardian)

‘Don’t tone it down’ – inside the invasion of British museums by disabled artists. (Jun, the Guardian)

Being Hybrid A guide to hybrid events for the literature sector. (Jun, Spread the Word)

United States

Performance by Gaelynn Lea a musical welcome to Microsoft's Ability Summit. (Mar, MSFT Enable)

An Art in America edition dedicated to Disability Culture. (Oct, Art in America)

‘Access as an Ethic’: the dancers at Kinetic Light think about “access as an ethic, as an aesthetic, as a practice, as a promise, as a relationship with the audience [...] The disability arts community is really in a moment of vast experimentation.” (Aug, NYT)

Why Beyoncé and Lizzo Changed Same Lyric on Their New Albums. (Aug, Time) See also a linguistic discussion of the word and how it is used differently across communities of English-language speakers, and frustrations with holding Black artists to higher standards.

Mean Baby by Selma Blair review “Written with warmth and candour, the actor’s new memoir chronicles her alcoholism and MS diagnosis – alongside tales of dressing up with Carrie Fisher” (Jul, the Guardian)

As Lizzo was called out for ableism, many Black disabled people felt overlooked. (Jun, NPR) See also on BBC

Disability in Theatre: Strategies for Combating Ableism by Meeting Actors’ Access Needs. (Apr, On Stage Blog)

How The Grammys Got Accessibility Right, And What They Could Have Done Better - An Interview With Lachi (Apr, Forbes)

Contemplating Beauty in a Disabled Body “My looks don’t fit into classical ideals of order, proportion, symmetry. So what was I looking for in that gallery in Rome?” (Mar, New York Times Magazine) An essay by Chloé Cooper Jones, whose book Easy Beauty has just come out. I enjoyed her discussion of the book on longform, sadly no transcript.

Review of ‘True Biz,’ by Sara Novic (Mar, NYT) See also a discussion on Power, Privilege, and Love in a Residential School for Deaf Students (Electric Literature).

Sofía Jirau Makes History as the First Victoria’s Secret Model With Down Syndrome (Feb, Glamour)

Disability Justice from A to Z A Coloring Book For Our Communities (Jan, Sins Invalid)

Beauty & Disability The Entrenched History of Ableism in the Beauty Industry (Dec, World Institute on Disability)

TV and Film


A Position Paper on the Inclusion of the facial difference community. “For almost one hundred years movies have cast scarred characters in different versions of the same roles: villains, vigilantes, victims, outcasts.” (Mar, Face Equality International)

‘Hardly seen as human at all’: will fantasy ever beat its dwarfism problem? (Dec, the Guardian)

Marvel's New Spider-Verse Hero Shows the Struggle of a Real Disease. Marvel's newest Spider-Man variant uses a wheelchair and has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. (Sep, Screen Rant)

Ralph and Katie: Disability Content's Coming of Age. (Oct, Disability Arts Online)

Subtitles can be terrible: profile on Netflix's head of accessibility. “About 40% of Netflix's global users use them all the time, while 80% use them at least once a month, according to the company's internal data.” (Sep, Business Insider)

Bantering Through Disability and Dislocation In “Tuesco,” Daniel Poler documents a Venezuelan family’s use of dark humor to remain buoyant in exile. (Sep, The New Yorker)

'Cha Cha Real Smooth' Star Vanessa Burghardt on Autism Representation. (Jun, Variety)

Netflix is beefing up its its audio description and subtitling accessibility features and has a collection of its shows celebrating disability. (May, The Verge)

What Season 6 of 'This Is Us' Gets Right About Disability Representation (Apr, The Mighty)

A detailed look at Inevitable Foundation's Cost of Accommodations Report “features line budget research outlining the actual (not presumed) financial impact accommodations can have on TV and film budgets of various sizes as well as a survey of disabled talent on their experiences requesting accommodations”. For example, “30% of disabled talent have had to pay out-of-pocket for their accommodations.” (Apr, Hollywood Reporter)
See analysis and critique of the report from Crip News:

‘“Accommodation” as a framework assumes that we ought not to threaten a status quo. It assumes the benefits of inclusion, where disabled people have access to a process but don’t shape or lead its values. The report is a great example of what we might call inclusionism, accommodationism, incrementalism, or reformism.’

CODA won an Oscar: a flawed triumph for the Deaf community. “The movie and the awards ceremony show the power—and limits—of on-screen representation.” (Mar, Slate) See also the tension at the heart of CODA on the Atlantic.

Team Zenko Go An All-New Disability Inclusive Series From DreamWorks Animation And Mainframe Studios. “Team Zenko Go has managed to avoid all too familiar disability tropes such as, for instance, villains, victims or inspirations.” (Mar, Forbes)


Four Feet High Just caught up on this charming series from 2020. A portrait of young people figuring out identity issues on a rollercoaster of relationships, identity, inclusion and exclusion. 'Revolutionises the way the body is represented on the screen' (in Spanish, with subtitles in English and other languages, Dec, Arte TV)


Country's first wheelchair-bound news presenter makes debut "an initiative to bring people with disabilities into the mainstream to commemorate the golden jubilee of independence." (Dec, The Business Standard)


Cromosoma 21: the Chilean series that is making impact on Netflix (In Spanish, Feb, Yo También)


The European Blind Union is disappointed at first MEDIA calls for proposals 2022 European Commission calls for proposals to support the audiovisual industry did not live up to good practices on promoting accessibility. (Feb, EBU)


Making Cinema Accessible To Everyone “The Delhi High Court on January 16, directed the producers of the upcoming movie ‘Pathaan’ (Yash Raj Films), to make the movie accessible for hearing and visually-impaired persons.” (Jan, Live Law)

Disability and Poverty in Dosti 1964 the story of a friendship between two disabled boys. (Feb, Neurodivergent India, instagram)

Will ‘Jalsa’ Improve Disability Representation in Indian Popular Culture? (Mar, BBC) See more on Surya Kasibhatla, the actor with cerebral palsy that stars in the thriller.


Deaf Japanese actor is a sign of the times feature on the movie “Love Love”. (Oct, NHK)


Disability has a minimum presence on Mexican television: to marginalize is to discriminate. (In Spanish, Jan, Yo También.)

Middle East and North Africa

Why Ameera is a Muppet with a wheelchair that doesn't fit. “Should the wheelchair reflect Ameera’s reality or accurately represent her needs? Is it more powerful to show the world as it is, or how it should be?” (Nov, CNN)

Meet Ameera, Sesame Workshop’s Newest Muppet Friend a young girl that uses a bright purple wheelchair and forearm crutches. (Mar, Sesame Street International Social Impact)


Never Seen “is a documentary produced by Naima Abdullahi that offers us a glimpse into the life of Nimco Hersi and shows how she navigates Dutch society as a Black deaf woman” (Jan, Casco Art)

South Korea

Extraordinary Attorney Woo’s episodes have good and bad autistic representation. “In highlighting the realities of discrimination through the microcosmic lens of Hanbada, Extraordinary Attorney Woo excels. [But, as well as reinforcing some misconceptions about autism, the] ultimately supportive nature of Young-woo’s colleagues has led some to criticize the show for being too fantastical.” (Aug, Polygon)


The Ugandan woman behind TV for the deaf (Aug, Disability Insider)

United Kingdom

“An Irish Goodbye:” A New Standard for Disability-Focused Stories. (Jan, Respect Ability)

Doctor Who casting Ruth Madeley is game-changing for disabled fans. (Jan, Radio Times)

The 5 As: our standards for disability inclusion in the television sector. (Dec, BBC)

Rose Ayling-Ellis, winner of last year's Strictly Come Dancing, important reflections on representation: ‘I’m done with being token deaf character on TV’: “I had to break through countless barriers to get to where I am. It’s been a lonely, upsetting journey, and whilst winning Strictly was an amazing experience, it shouldn’t be allowed to conceal the hardships I have been through to get here.” (Aug, the Guardian) It's worth watching the whole speech.

Channel4 Disability Code of Portrayal commits to more nuanced approaches in portrayal of disabled people, involving disabled people themselves. (Jul, Channel 4)

Britain's Got Talent 2022 Eva Abley's performances, a 14 year-old comedian. (May, Adnan Entertainment)

Starring Rosie Jones Disability Benefits is a comedy take on getting disability benefits from the government, and if that doesn't work, getting the disability benefit in a life of crime. (May, Channel 4)

Broadcasters unite to create ‘passports’ “that will remove barriers and support better inclusion of disabled people and other colleagues at work.” (Mar, Channel 4)

Let’s storm Parliament! Then Barbara Met Alan is a film from BBC on the ”punks who risked their lives to fix ableist Britain”. See also on “these stories change how people think”. (Mar, the Guardian) One line I enjoyed from the film: “It was 1990, nothing in law, just a pat on the head and a fuck off if you moan too much”. See also a comment on what the film misses out.

‘It’s time for us to live our lives to the full’. Line of Duty’s Tommy Jessop on changing the world for people with Down’s syndrome. (Feb, the Guardian)

I'm thrilled that Rose Ayling-Ellis won Strictly Come Dancing: see her interview in the Guardian talking about her life, career and the show. (Dec, the Guardian)

United States

Creators Ask Hollywood to Hire Disabled Writers: “Disabled writers, directors, and actors are rarely hired to work on projects that feature disabled characters because studios and production companies have prioritized hiring disability consultants.” (Mar, Variety)

A year after ‘CODA’ made Oscars history, Deaf people are waiting for more inclusive stories. (Mar, GBH News)

‘Sometimes you felt excluded’: How debut director Marlee Matlin righted past wrongs (Jan, Los Angeles Times)

Short Film “Take Me Home” Captures Empathy During Mourning. The short follows a cognitively disabled adult named Anna who lives with her aging mother in Midland, Florida. (Jan, Respect Ability)

'I Didn't See You There' Is a Disability Film Unlike Any Other - The Atlantic (Jan, The Atlantic) Also on the Guardian.

Oscar's Final Frontier: Movies Featuring Disabilities. “This year's race includes a handful of films on the topic; it's not enough but there is progress.” (Dec, Variety)

Captioned Video Accessibility. “Stranger Things” Captions, a Fascinating Case Study: “Captions are not the place to exercise creativity”. (Jul, Meryl Evans)

‘Best Foot Forward’ Is a Story About, and by, People With Disabilities (Jul, New York Times)

Accurate Disability Representation In Mass Media: 8 Powerful Film and Television Performances By Actors With Disabilities. (May, Kids Included Together)

DisLabeled, a short pilot episode, The Original Hackers. “Join comedian Brian McCarthy and other disabled designers, creators, and advocates who help him navigate his sudden vision loss with humor, innovation, and authenticity.” (Mar, Bric TV)

‘As We See It’ Is Not a Typical Portrayal of Autism starring three leads who are on the autism spectrum (Jan, NYT)

Ahead of the Golden Globes Shining a Spotlight on Disability-Inclusive Nominations (Jan, Respect Ability)



‘A View From Somewhere’ DJP Staff, Partners, and Fellows Reflect on Two Years of “Taking Back the Narrative” on Disability (Mar, Disability Justice Project)

Disability Debrief: A disability lens on world news. A vision that grounds the news in our lived experiences. (Feb, Disability Debrief)

Profiles of those awarded Create Fund grants change how people with disabilities are portrayed in media. (Dec, Shuttershock)

Rings of power and privilege: Popular media promotes negative biases towards people with facial differences. (Nov, Psychology Today)

Tips to make your visual journalism more accessible. (Aug, International Journalists' Network)

It's time for the disabled community to take center stage. (Aug, Fortune)

Shutterstock is partnering with disability organizations in a Create Fund for artists from diverse backgrounds that help fill content gaps in stock images, videos and other media. See more on the importance of meaningful visual representation. (Shutterstock)


Australian advertisers striving for inclusiveness through disability representation. (Mar, ABC News)


How one Indian radio station is giving ‘a lifeline to people with disabilities’ around the world. “Set up in 2015, the volunteer-run station now has some 50,000 people with disabilities tuning in to its trilingual broadcasts every month”. (Dec, This Week in Asia)

A 9-step plan for 'curb-cutting' disability access in India’s news and newsrooms. A paper on the experiences of journalists with disabilities and what more can be done. (Sep, Reuters Institute)


Meet Two Disability Justice Project Fellows Modeling Inclusive Storytelling. (Oct, Disability Rights Fund)


Interview with Alan Herbert “a Kenyan journalist, social inclusion advocate, and behavior change communications professional.” (Feb, Disability Rights Flordia)

United Kingdom

Disability in Advertising: Is Representation Finally Improving? (Feb, Just Copy)

The media are failing disabled people. “Lucy Webster explains why – and how they can do better” (Nov, Tortoise)

BBC Unveils Latest Statistics on Disability, Ethnicity Representation. “53% of teams monitored achieving their targets for disability representation, an increase of 35 percentage points over the last year and a half.” (Apr, Variety)

Channel 4 creative brief Disability Disruption commission "ripping up the playbook and showing disabled people as they have never been seen before on British TV." (Feb, Channel 4) See also coverage on Broadcast.

United States

How public radio stations can serve deaf audiences. “Two public radio stations looking to improve the accessibility of their broadcasts for the deaf and hard of hearing have found new ways to provide live captioning of their programming.” (Dec, Current)

Representation in media: Closing the inclusion gap for people with disabilities (Jul, Nielsen)

Language, Please: a style guide for journalists that includes a section on Disabilities, Neurodiversity, and Chronic Illness (May, Language, Please)

Disability Matters: A toolkit for newsrooms to better serve the disability community (Apr, Reynolds Journalism Institute)

How to Report With Care on Disability.

"Although I was happy to learn that Starbucks was trying to be more inclusive, to me, hiring people with disabilities isn’t a big news story — and neither is a corporation making one store accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing customers. I felt that the real story was how some of those workers had master’s degrees, yet they had trouble finding jobs elsewhere because of their disability." (Feb, NYT)

Short video campaign Spotlights Black Disabled Creatives (Feb, Respect Ability)

Clothing and Fashion

United States

Ramping Up Fashion’s Accessible Future “The fashion industry is designing adaptable clothing for disabled people, but is that enough to undo the industry’s ableism?” (Nov, Yes!)

I Never Loved Fashion— Until I Went Blind. “On styling myself for a whole new life and the hope that came with it.” (Oct, Cosmopolitan)

A Double Take on Adaptive Fashion at NYFW, From Open Style Lab. (Sep, Vogue)