Media and Disability 2005 Abstracts

Media and Disability Interest Group

‘Fat, Furious, And Forever Wanting Food’: Newspaper Depictions of Persons with Prader-Willi Syndrome, 2000-2005 • Karyn Ogata Jones and Margaret R. Smith, Clemson University • This study examines media representations of persons with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a rare, complex condition caused by an error on Chromosome 15. We coded articles from major U.S. and international newspapers over five years (N=61). While some stories portrayed the syndrome in a more positive light, most reports were overwhelmingly negative or mostly negative, focusing on severe issues related to food-seeking behaviors, morbid obesity, cognition and behavior.

Who’s Considered Normal? Exploring 19th Century Magazine Coverage about People with Disabilities • Nicole Richardson, University of Georgia • This study explores magazines’ portrayal of disability issues in the nineteenth century to seek to better understand the current stereotypes in existence today. Media coverage of disabilities in the nineteenth century suggests that the influence of medical technologies and the philanthropic movement of caring for dependents influenced how disability issues were explained to the public. Similarities were found between the historical coverage of disabilities and the current depiction of these people in the press.

Stories of Victims or Stories of Survivors? A Framing Analysis of the News Media Coverage of Burn Injuries • Nicole Elise Smith, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill • This study explored how the news media are telling the stories of burn injuries. The study was approached from the perspectives of framing theory and the social model of disability. In the analysis of U.S. print news coverage from 1990 and 2000, the research found that disabling language was prevalent and that media frames highlighted the sensational aspects of burn care and recovery in telling the stories of those who have sustained a burn injury.

Towards Making Images Accessible: Categorizing Image Use on American Online Newspapers • Jin Xu, Winona State University • Inaccessible online newspapers discriminate against people with disabilities. As image accessibility is crucial to the overall accessibility of online newspapers, it is meaningful to examine how images are used in them and how their inaccessibility hinders the delivery of their editorial content. This study took a random sample of American online newspapers and attempted to categorize their image use. Factor analysis showed that images fall into six distinct uses.

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