Confronting obstacles to inclusion: how the US news media report disability

Beth Haller, Sue Ralph, Zosia Zaks

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapter


The news media act as a major source of information about the society in which we live. Much research has confirmed the place of news media as agents in the social construction of reality (Gamson 1992) and in the creation of a societal worldview (Cohen & Young 1982). The reporting of disability issues has tended to follow the medical model of disability and such themes as medical and other controversies, causes, cures, symptoms and associated behaviours have been reported. Disabled people are generally "talked about" rather then being able to speak for themselves. We argue that the attitudes perpetuated in the news media act as barriers towards inclusion of disabled people in main stream society. In this research we have analyzed stories about autism from four major US publications to demonstrate what is written about disabled people and ask how the news media are creating the "reality" about a particular disability, autism, for their audiences.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConfronting Obstacles to Inclusion: International Responses to Developing Inclusive Education
EditorsRichard Rose
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780203846780
ISBN (Print)9780415493611
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Obstacles
  • Inclusion
  • US news media
  • Disability


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