It will be a number of weeks before we know which new shows will survive the fall season, but one thing is clear from the outset. There will be more characters with disabilities portrayed on network shows this year compared to last year. This news comes courtesy of disabilityscoop.com, which highlighted a report produced by GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).
The annual report highlights the number of characters that are minorities on network television shows. For the second year in a row, the number of characters with disabilities will increase. For the 2014-2015 year, eleven such characters will have regular roles. Last year, there were only eight characters.
The Fox network leads with disabled characters, with people appearing on “Red Band Society,” “Glee” and “Empire.” Characters with disabilities will also be seen on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Flash” on the CW and CBS’ “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.”
The gradual increase in visibility with disabled characters is an important step for television, as the small screen commonly reflects societal norms. With that, it is not surprising to see more gay and lesbian characters in addition to disabled persons. However, advocates for disabled actors are reportedly not satisfied (even though progress is being made), as the number of disabled characters still represents a small fraction (1.4 percent) of all of the 813 characters on network shows. As such, there is still work to be done to tell accurate and genuine stories about disabled people, whether they are physical or intellectual in nature.