Disney Noncommittal On Adding Characters With Disabilities
ANTIOCH, Calif. — The mother of a toddler with Down syndrome has made good on her promise to hand deliver a petition to The Walt Disney Studios asking the company to include more characters with disabilities in its movies.
But the media conglomerate’s response suggests that any change to the status quo will be a long time coming, if it happens at all.
Keston Ott-Dahl and her partner, Andrea, took 17-month-old Delaney and her two older siblings to Disney’s Burbank headquarters late last month to present studio executives with the names of more than 75,000 people who had signed her petition.
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Dressed in a blue gown like one of the princesses featured in the animated film “Frozen,” Delaney, tuckered out from the excitement, napped as her 6-year-old sister, Jules, handed a company representative five bound volumes.
The Nov. 26 visit followed Disney’s response to a letter Ott-Dahl had sent a month earlier informing the studios of her visit and suggesting that it publicly announce plans to feature more children with disabilities.
Although Ott-Dahl says she was pleasantly surprised that she received any acknowledgment at all, the company’s reply was noncommittal and refuted the assertion that youngsters with physical imperfections don’t see other children who look like them in Disney movies.
“The Disney brand has always been inclusive,” wrote Paul Roeder, senior vice president of global communications. “We constantly strive … to share compelling storylines from our studios and media networks that … reflect the incredibly rich diversity of the human experience.”
He assured Ott-Dahl that Disney remains “committed to continuing to create characters that are accessible and relatable to all children.”
Roeder did not respond to a request for comment.
But Ott-Dahl remains optimistic that the company will consider her request.
“And if not, I’ll keep on ’em,” she said.