Study reveals that Hollywood continues to ignore actors with disabilities

The Ruderman Family Foundation, whose mission includes to, “advocate for and advance the inclusion of people with disabilities throughout our society,” recently released a report analyzing the status of representation for people with disabilities in mainstream television. The report references the fact that people with disabilities make up almost 20% of the United States. However, only 5% of television characters with disabilities are played by actors with disabilities. The remaining 95% are played by able-bodied actors.

According to The LA Times, the report found that multiple “actors with disabilities worked less than once a year and were repeatedly subjected to negative stigma and preconceived biases by casting agents and producers.”

We live in a time where people with disabilities are increasingly recognized and able to have their voices heard. Yet the mainstream television industry continues to ignore the existence of talented actors with disabilities, choosing instead to select able-bodied actors to attempt to portray disability.

Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.