Arlene is on the SCENE

Disability on TV–Where Are We?

Posted on: October 6, 2011

A report was just released with dismal statistics: of 647 characters appearing in scripted programs on network television (ABC, NBC, CBS, CW, Fox), five have a disability.  Five.  And yet, people with disabilities in this country number over 50 million, one-fifth of all Americans.

And we wonder why living with a disability is sometimes challenging for kids, why it’s so hard to integrate a disability into a positive self-image while growing up. Because we’re not out there!  Kids with disabilities don’t see themselves reflected in our culture.  Disability can’t become part of “the norm” when it’s not a common part of our everyday lives.

We wrote Arlene On the Scene in part for this purpose–to throw out into the mix a girl who happens to wear leg braces, kind of like the (ONE!) guy on Glee who uses a wheelchair that everyone knows about (although the actor doesn’t use a wheelchair).  We hope that more follow along.  Copy-cats welcome!

And that’s also why we’ve taken our show on the road, visiting schools to talk to kids about disability being just one part of a person’s mosaic.  We’re scheduling free “author presentations” now for the 2011-2012 school year, so be sure to contact us if you’re interested.  Our Teacher’s Guide is available for free download here as well, providing over 50 pages of classroom activities to utilize Arlene On the Scene in grades 3-5, or as a guided reading for younger students.

Who knows?  Maybe Arlene will be the next Disney sitcom star?  What do you think?

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