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Depictions of Disabilities in Disney: A Guide for Parents

This research briefing paper reviews how disability is represented in Disney films and was written by Julia Gillespie, Camila Grullón De León, Claudia Meneguzzi, and Gabrielle de Graaf from Mental Health and Disability Management. This PDF article is available for download only.    Abstract:    School aged children are learning how to interact with the world and thus, may be vulnerable to the social messages they are exposed to through movies. In the current paper, a sample of 24 Disney films were reviewed to determine if and how disability is represented in the characters. The definition of disability chosen by our team was based on the Human Rights Code of the Ontario Human Rights Commission due to its inclusive nature of visible and invisible disabilities. Out of the 24 films reviewed, 21 had at least one character with a disability and 12 of those involved a child with a disability. The average score given to the disability representation had a slight increase for more recently released films. Negative portrayals of disability in Disney films seem to be declining in recent years. When interpreting depictions of disabilities, it is important to acknowledge the diversity of disabilities and the personal experiences of those with disabilities. Parents should consider this information when understanding how Disney films can impact the socialization of disability among children.    Julia Gillespie, Camila Grullón De León, Claudia Meneguzzi, and Gabrielle de Graaf – Depictions of Disabilities in Disney: A Guide for Parents PDF    

How Disability is Presented in Children’s Literature

This research briefing paper reviews how disability is represented in children’s literature and was written by Ashleigh Reigel and Kendra Vander Glas from Mental Health and Disability Management, and Mckenna Lowrie from Brain Disorders Management. This PDF article is available for download only.   Abstract:    For this project, researchers dove into the world of children’s literature, more specifically, children’s literature and the light it shines on people with disabilities. Researchers looked at 15 different children’s books and analyzed aspects of each book to come to a consensus of how the disability in the book was shown in comparison to society. This project found that 60% of the literature showed disability in a positive light. A large majority of the books discussed the main character having the disability, as opposed to a side character. Finally, over half of the books had the individual with the disability treated positively, but a few had them treated negatively until they learned a lesson, then positively after this point. Literature has a large impact on the views of society, especially when taught in schools. Children learn from literature, as teachers in the primary sector tend to read books to their classes. Pieces of literature like the ones in this study may not be commonly used in everyday classrooms.    Ashleigh Reigel, Kendra Vander Glas, and Mckenna Lowrie, How Disability is Presented in Children’s Literature PDF