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Media Access Office - Disability Portrayal in the Media


The Media Access Office mission is to actively promote the employment and accurate portrayal of persons with disabilities in all areas of the media and entertainment industry, ensuring that the industry recognizes people with disabilities as part of cultural diversity.

The Media Access Office (MAO) is a unique partnership of volunteers and staff of the California Governor's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities and the California Employment Development Department.

The Media Access Office mission is to actively promote the employment and accurate portrayal of persons with disabilities in all areas of the media and entertainment industry, ensuring that the industry recognizes people with disabilities as part of cultural diversity.

People with disabilities have often been profoundly impacted by the media, both for good and for bad. Movie and film representation today should offer accurate information and truthful insights as to disability, not myths, distortions of the truth, or falsehoods and mature in its depictions of disability. As the general public becomes more informed and comfortable with disabilities the portrayal of disability should be included in the media, entertainment industry, and advertising in the same way that people of all ages, races and genders are today.

Although there is no specific data showing attitude change in response to media communication, people tend to believe that the manner in which characters are portrayed is important. Characters presented on screen are sociocultural stereotypes designed to appeal to the majority of viewers, and reflect widely held values. It seems apparent that the repeated presentation of images in an acceptable and palatable manner will result in those images becoming a typification of everyday existence. One can legislate behavioural change and hopefully changes in attitude will follow. Attitudes, beliefs, and misconceptions of society constitute a major barrier for people with disabilities.

Currently there are only a few of actors with disabilities having success in the entertainment industry. Blind people, the mobility impaired, performers with Down syndrome, amputees and others with disabilities face a daunting obstacle: Many producers, casting directors and other Hollywood decision-makers fear making audiences uncomfortable, so they tend to avoid any risk they think could cost them.

Media Access Office services include:

Career development and planning for members with disabilities

Educational opportunities offered to the media and entertainment industry about disabilities and related issues.

Script consultation on disability issues and themes.

Casting liaison service representing over 900 performers with disabilities.

Referrals to assistive technology and experts in the disability community.

Classes and scholarships for both adults and children with disabilities to help develop and improve their craft

Media Access Office South Staff

Gloria M. Castaneda
Program Director
1255 S. Central Avenue
Glendale, CA 91204
818-409-0448

Media Access Office North Staff

Dr. Douglas W. Gordy, PhD
Program Director
4071 Port Chicago Highway, Suite 250
Concord, CA 94520
925-602-7721

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