People with disability negotiate a complex identity that involves both physical difference and social stigma. Excluded from other identity‑based areas of inquiry, and encouraged to pass as unimpaired by human rights models (see the ability), media representations purporting to offer empowerment may actually perpetuate the biomedical model of disability as it discursively situates disability as deficit. Drawing on work undertaken by Schell and Duncan (1999) this article critically examines current affairs programming (60 Minutes and Australian Story) leading up to the 2008 Paralympics Games to highlight the role the media plays in reflecting and reinforcing social disablement. I will likewise explore the way aspects of these profiles, which foreground the relevance of impairment and disability to the lives of people with disability, potentially advance social understandings of disability.
Recommended CitationEllis, K., Beyond the Aww Factor: Human interest Profiles of Paralympians and the media navigation of physical difference and social stigma, Asia Pacific Media Educator, 19, 2009, 23-36.