Media portrayals of those with differing abilities grow more diverse

Those with differing abilities are starting to get the screen time they deserve. While Joe Biden has opened up about his stutter on the national stage, those in Hollywood, too, are taking strides to hire disabled people to portray and voice disabled characters in entertainment, correcting an imbalance that has proliferated for too long. Now, content showcasing, celebrating, and, more importantly, normalizing the experience of those with different abilities is educating a larger population about people living with a range of abilities, ultimately encouraging equality, inclusion, and representation. All examples in this newsletter are from Netflix, but having such a large media brand proliferate such content is a boon for true equality and understanding.


The new Netflix docu-series Deaf U is shining a spotlight on young adults in the deaf community. The series showcases the student life at Gallaudet University, a private college for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, in Washington, D.C. The show underscores that these young adults very much experience the shared hallmarks of emerging adulthood—they navigate hookups, hierarchies, and hobbies—but also depicts the nuances experienced by those in the deaf community. Netflix also ordered Audible, a documentary about a deaf high school athlete, at the same time as Deaf U.


The hugely popular Netflix series Love on the Spectrum has recently been renewed for a second season. The Australian docuseries will feature an all new cast, all of whom are on the autism spectrum, as they dive into dating and explore the ensuing relationships. The show has helped audiences better understand autism and break down stereotypes about this community, and its new season is likely to premiere in 2021.


The Netflix documentary Rising Phoenix tells the empowering stories of Paralympian heroes. The film follows the personal journey of these athletes and their achievements, unsparingly showing tragedies and triumphs alike. The film also educates viewers on the history of the Paralympic Games, which were devised by Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann. Rising Phoenix is making audiences laugh, cry, and gain a new perspective on not just these athletes, but all those living with different abilities.