1st Edition

Disabled People Transforming Media Culture for a More Inclusive World

By Beth A. Haller Copyright 2024
    244 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book tells the stories of disabled people who have been influential in creating modern mass media. 

    Through the voices of key disabled media makers and collaborators, the author highlights the ways in which their contributions are changing society’s understanding of disability and shaping mass media and culture. Spanning a range of media formats – television/streaming productions, performances, podcasts, TED Talks, films, reality TV, graphic novels, and social media channels – the book illustrates how disabled people are confronting the marginalization they have faced in mass media for decades. Modern disabled media creators are leveraging new media platforms to recognize the lived experiences of disability and their authentic place in media culture.

    This innovative and thought-provoking volume will be an important read for scholars, disability advocates, and students of Disability Studies, Mass Communication/Media Studies, as well as mass media production faculty, disabled people, and their allies.

    The Open Access version of this book, available at http://www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) 4.0 license.


    Chapter 1: Collaborating on set to disrupt narrative prosthesis

    Chapter 2: Talking the Talk of Real Disabled People’s Lives

    Chapter 3: Disability content through podcasting and vlogging as public pedagogy

    Chapter 4: Performers illustrate the Affirmative Model by taking control on scripted series for Web and streaming

    Chapter 5: Disability as superpower: Comics, graphic novels, and music

    Chapter 6: “Giving everything they have:” Documentaries illuminate disability experiences

    Chapter 7: Becoming visible: People with nonvisible disabilities crafting media content



    Beth A. Haller, Ph.D., has been researching mass media content about the disability community since the early 1990s. She developed some of the first university courses in the U.S. and Canada focused on disability in the media, for undergraduate and graduate Disability Studies programs at Towson University in Maryland, the City University of New York (CUNY), York University in Toronto, Canada, and the University of Texas-Arlington. Haller is co-editor of the 2020 Routledge Companion to Disability and Media (with Gerard Goggin of the University of Sydney and Katie Ellis of Curtin University, Australia). She is currently co-founder/co-director of the international nonprofit organization, the Global Alliance for Disability in Media and Entertainment. She is a retired Professor Emerita in the Mass Communication department at Towson University. She identifies as a neurodiverse person with multiple disabilities/chronic illnesses.

    A vital love letter to disability media that doesn’t just consider the limits of disability representation but gazes fondly at future possibilities. Engaging directly with disabled media creators, and backed up with important historical context, Haller offers a deep exploration into why new media platforms can offer exciting opportunities for mass audiences to hear different disability stories.

    Jeff Preston, PhD, Assistant Professor, Disability Studies, King’s University College, Western University

    "This book is truly a tour de force, combining theoretical and empirical research to map a broad and diverse spectrum of disability and media. Haller’s skill to synthesise historical, social, cultural, political and economic layers of disability media creation and representation is unprecedented. The reading experience is enriched by each chapter focusing on a different media genre and deploying a different theoretical approach. Its interdisciplinary poise thus benefits a variety of disciplines, such as disability studies, media studies, anthropology and media practice-led research. Most importantly, the writing is engaging and accessible, embodying the same kind of inclusivity its content advocates for." 

    Catalin Brylla, Principal Lecturer in Film TV, Bournemouth University, UK   

    With her decades of experience writing about disability issues as a journalist, in addition to her academic career in communication studies, Beth Haller is the preeminent scholar and chronicler of disabled people’s uses of mass, print, and digital media—as creators, consumers, and critics—for their social, cultural, and political advancement. This book adeptly combines up-to-date examples with fresh takes on communication theory to offer readers unexpected insights into the past, present, and future of disability representation on-screen and online. 

    Meryl Alper, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Northeastern University, Boston, Mass.