TV Networks Featuring More Characters With Disabilities
The number of characters with disabilities appearing on broadcast television is on the rise, according to a new analysis.
Eleven characters with disabilities are expected to be featured regularly on scripted prime-time programs on ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC this season, up from eight last year.
The findings come from a report released Wednesday on diversity in television that’s conducted annually by GLAAD, a media advocacy organization for the gay and lesbian community. The review looks at the number of characters representing various minority groups — including people with disabilities — during the 2014-2015 television season, which just began.
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For the first time, the analysis indicates that every broadcast network will feature at least one character with a disability regularly this year. Fox leads the pack with seven characters across its lineup.
Nonetheless, disability representation remains relatively small, accounting for just 1.4 percent of the 813 regular characters expected to appear on network prime-time programs, the analysis found.
“We’re basically seeing more appearances of series regulars and recurring roles with disabilities, but still very few actual performers with disabilities in those roles, which reduces the accuracy and authenticity of the characters and the stories,” said Anita Hollander, chair of SAG-AFTRA’s National Performers with Disabilities Committee, in the report. “We’re seeing a trend of many more people and performers with disabilities in reality TV and commercials/advertising than we are seeing reflected on scripted shows.”
For the report, characters were considered to have a disability if they would be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Characters with disabilities are expected to appear on Fox in “Red Band Society,” “Empire” and “Glee” as well as ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” CBS’s “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” NBC’s “Parenthood” and “The Flash” on The CW.
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