2020 UTA – Disability in Mass Media

Actor Daryl “Chill” Mitchell, left, stars on the CBS TV show “NCIS: New Orleans.” Katherine Beattie, a wheelchair user, writes for the show and wrote an episode in April 2019 featuring multiple disabled characters played by disabled actors.

Disability in Mass Media

COMM 4393-001 / DS 3321-001

July 13-August 13, Asynchronous Online

Beth Haller, Ph.D., beth.haller@uta.edu

https://bethhaller.wordpress.com

https://mediadisability.wordpress.com

 

Course Description: The course explores how mass media frames disability and neurodiversity for the general public. This course focuses on issues related to disability and mass media representation, including journalism, TV, film, advertising, photography, documentary, video games and the Internet. Topics will include media models of representation, inspiration porn, disability blogs, accessible media, advertising and photography, disabled mimicry in TV and film, video gaming, etc.

Course Objectives:
1. Increase understanding of media impact on the cultural and social issues related to disability;
2. Differentiate between the various disability justice terminology and disability models, as well as specific models of media representation of disability;
3. Introduction to accessible media and disability media, i.e. content created by and for people with disabilities.

Required Books and Course Materials:

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING

* You must complete all assignments to pass this class.

* All papers should use a recognized academic reference style.

* Attach the paper checklist to each assignment

Canvas Discussions of readings and videos  (20%)

This asynchronous online class is designed with readings and video viewings that connect. Your active participation on the Canvas discussion boards is crucial and will also count as attendance. Contact me if you have any problems completing the Canvas discussions.

Reaction Papers: (30%)

Reaction papers allow you to engage with the assigned materials, develop critical reading and writing skills, and prepare for Canvas discussions. You will be asked to complete three responses (2½- 3 pages -750-1,000 words – double-spaced, 12 pt. font). Papers should address key issues or themes developed in the readings for the modules covered by each paper. I will post prompts on Canvas, but you are encouraged to create your own topic. Exceptional papers will develop an interesting argument and put multiple readings in discussion with each other. Each reaction paper should include: 1) at least three full-sentence direct quotes cited from at least three course materials; 2) your personal critique of the readings/screenings; 3) a reference list of all sources, both readings and screenings used; 4) be at least 750 words and 5) the checklist as page 1 of the paper. Due dates are listed in the syllabus.

Rubric for all papers:

Grade Quality Relevance Grammar/Spelling
90 – 100

(“A”)

The paper represents a thoughtful reflection on disability and media. It is creative and substantive and demonstrates excellence in its discussion of the topic. The paper illustrates new ways of thinking about disability and the media and used 3 or more direct quotes from 3+ reading materials/screenings to support that content. The paper clearly demonstrates a deep understanding of disability and media content and relevance to Disability Studies. The paper is interesting, compelling and well organized. It has no spelling or grammatical errors. The work displayed is interesting and varied, incorporating the required number of examples from course readings/screenings. Assignment checklist is followed and attached.
80 – 89

(“B”)

The paper demonstrates a thoughtful response; however, required examples from readings/screenings are missing or inaccurate. Personal reflections are not as compelling or interesting as they could be. Only 1-2 direct quotes from less than 3 readings/screenings are used. The paper demonstrates a somewhat superficial connection between disability and the media. The paper is well organized, but has minor errors in grammar, spelling, required format, or academic style. Assignment checklist is not followed.
70 – 79

(“C”)

The paper does not clearly demonstrate a connection between disability and the media or to Disability Studies. Personal reflections are missing or superficial. No direct quotes from readings/screenings are used. The paper’s content is not relevant to the topic of disability and the media. Content is unclear or not well developed. The paper is disorganized, has serious errors in grammar, spelling, academic style, or required format. It is not compelling to the reader and does not have required examples or references. Assignment checklist is not followed or attached.
60 – 69

(“D”)

The paper is off topic and not connected to disability and the media. No quotes or paraphrases from readings/screenings are used. The paper uses no relevant course readings or screenings. The paper meets few of the requirements for the assignment. Assignment checklist is not followed or attached.
Below 60 (“F”) Sections are missing, or issues of academic honesty or integrity are involved.

Audio description script/discussion paper (25 percent)

Your audio description script should follow this example of a timed script:  http://www.adlabproject.eu/Docs/adlab%20book/index.html#example-ad

1. Watch the Smith-Kettlewell video description tutorials 1-7:

2. Read at least 3 of these articles about audio description. You will need to incorporate 3 direct quotes from these articles in your 500-word discussion paper.

3. Select your 3-minute clip of a fictional TV show or film from YouTube. Do not audio describe a movie trailer (too much going on). I recommend finding a scene in the middle of the TV show or film that has both action and dialogue. Remember you are writing this script so a blind person knows what is going on when there is no dialogue.

4. I highly recommend looking at multiple clips before you select the one you will describe. The best thing to do is listen to the clip with your eyes closed. That way you can judge if there is too much dialogue so no space for audio description or too little dialogue so you have to describe everything. Here are the two audio described clips we watched in class to remind you of about no dialogue audio description:

5. You will need to play your 3-minute clip over and over to figure out where there is no dialogue so you can describe what is happening between the dialogue. You will also need to write down the dialogue for your script as well.

6. Write your audio description (AD) script with the times each dialogue and AD happens. For example, if you only have 3 seconds between dialogue, there is no time to audio describe but if there is 10 seconds, you have time to describe something important in the scene.

7. Write your 300-word discussion/reaction paper with 3 direct quotes from the readings. Mostly this will be your reaction to this assignment. Audio description is an important access tool for people who are blind or visually impaired, who want to enjoy TV and films just like everyone else.  Discuss what you learned, the challenge of creating the script, new ways you may think about accessible media now, etc.

Do you need another example of audio description to get you started? Here’s an audio-described scene from the original “Lion King:”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jT5AsjzgIC4

(Note: Please let me know if you have a visual impairment that prevents you from doing this assignment. You will be assigned a captioning assignment instead.)

Final paper: Disability blogging analysis paper: (25%)

  • Readings for this assignment: Disability Studies Quarterly special issue: Disability Blogging, http://dsq-sds.org/issue/view/1 (9 articles) and Haller, B. (2010). “The changing landscape of disability ‘news’: Blogging and social media lead to more diverse sources of information.”
  • Email me with your selection of a blog from the list below and I will post the list. Choices are first-come, first-served. (Note: Students should select a blog not selected by another student. Once all are selected, then two students may select the same blog.)

What the analysis should include:

  • Write at least a 1200-word paper in which you carefully analyze a number of posts (at least 6-8) on the disability-related blog. In your analysis, explain what model(s) or perspectives on disability the blog posts appear to reflect. What seems to be the blogger’s perspective toward disability, toward people with disabilities? How do you know? Be sure to support your argument with specific references to the blog posts by date. As part of your analysis, try to figure out who the blog’s intended audience is. Who are they seeking to reach? Based on the blogger bio, what are their backgrounds and how does that seem to influence the blog content?
  • Your paper must reference at least 3 of the 9 articles from the Disability Studies Quarterly article on blogging, http://dsq-sds.org/issue/view/1.
  • Your paper should reference chapter 1 of Representing Disability in an Ableist World.
  • Your paper will have a reference list of at least 10 sources (6 blog posts, 3 DSQ articles and the Haller chapter).
  • Write about your reaction and reflection on the blog. Why do you think they do or don’t fit the disability models discussed? How do they reflect the perspectives in the DSQ essays about disability blogging?  Please include your personal commentary about what you think the impact of the blog and its posts are.

Blog choices:

Blog name Student assigned
A Typical Son, http://atypicalson.com/
Autistic Hoya, http://www.autistichoya.com/
Brainless Blogger, https://brainlessblogger.net/ (Canada)
CanCanOnWheelz, https://www.candiswelch.com/blog
Chronic Babe, https://www.chronicbabe.com/blog/
Claiming Crip, http://www.claimingcrip.blogspot.com/
Crutches & Spice, https://crutchesandspice.com/
Curb Free with Cory Lee, https://www.curbfreewithcorylee.com/
Despite Lupus, http://despitelupus.blogspot.com/
The Geeky Gimp, https://geekygimp.com/
Intersected, http://intersecteddisability.blogspot.com/
Kathie Comments, https://kathiecomments.wordpress.com/
Little Miss Turtle, http://www.littlemissturtle.com/blog/
Meriah Nichols, http://www.meriahnichols.com/
Oh, Twist, http://ohtwist.com/blog
Ouch: Disability Talk, http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/ (UK)
Paginated Thoughts, https://kpagination.wordpress.com/
Picnic with Ants, https://picnicwithants.com/
Rooted in Rights blog, https://rootedinrights.org/category/posts/
Slow Walkers See More, https://slowwalkersseemore.wordpress.com/
The Active Amputee, https://www.theactiveamputee.org/blog/
The Squeaky Wheelchair, http://thesqueakywheelchair.blogspot.com/
That Crazy Crippled Chick, http://thatcrazycrippledchick.com/
Uncomfortable Revolution, https://www.urevolution.com/
Where’s Waldman, https://whereswaldman.wordpress.com/
Words I Wheel By, http://wordsiwheelby.com/blog/
Assignment Date Due
Reaction Paper 1 July 20
Email me your blog choice by this date (First come, first served) July 20
Reaction Paper 2 July 24
Reaction Paper 3 July 31
Audio Description paper/script/Canvas discussion August 3
Disability blog analysis paper due August 13

Grading:

  • Canvas Discussions/Attendance: 20%
  • Reaction Papers: 30%
  • Audio description assignment: 25%
  • Disability blogging analysis paper: 25%

Grading criteria for written assignments and course in general: (Whenever written assignments are given, I expect you all to produce the best written work of which you are capable.)

90 – 100 (“A”) On the written assignments, this means the paper is clear, organized coherently, and well-written. It is an effective discussion of the topic. It has no spelling, grammar, format, or accuracy errors. In terms of the course, this means you have almost perfect attendance, scores in this range on the tests, and have good questions and discussion in class.

80 – 89 (“B”) On the written assignments, the paper is cohesive and well organized, although it may have some minor spelling or grammatical errors. The discussion covers almost all of the important information and follows proper format. In terms of the course, this means you have good attendance, scores in this range on assignments, and have good questions and discussion in class.

70 – 79 (“C”) On the written assignments, the paper is disorganized and contains many minor errors. The discussion missed some pertinent information or does not follow proper format. In terms of the course, this means you have poor attendance, scored in this range on assignments, and have not participated in class discussions.

60 – 69 (“D”) On the written assignments, the paper ineffectively discusses the topic; it is not coherent or understandable. It contains an unacceptable number of spelling, grammar errors and/or inaccurate information or does not follow proper format. In terms of the course, this means you have missed more classes than you have attended, scored in this range on the tests, and have not participated in class discussions.

Below 60 (“F”)* The paper contains major factual error(s) related to the topic. The information presented is completely incorrect. The paper does not meet the requirements in page length, focus, or format. In terms of the course, this means you have missed more classes than you have attended, scored in this range on the tests, and have not participated in class discussions. If you are caught cheating in any way, you will automatically receive an F in the course.

Guidelines for all assignments:

  • You should do college-level work in all written assignments.  You will receive specific and detailed instructions for all assignments within this course; follow them.
  • No late papers will be accepted after the last day of Summer Session II.
  • Any late papers will lose grade percentage points for each day they are late. (Please contact me if an emergency arises that affects you turning in a paper on time.)
  • All assignments must be typed in the form requested and should contain your name, the date, and the assignment topic in the upper left-hand corner.
  • Proofread, run spellcheck and grammar check, and correctly edit your papers. (Turning in sloppy work with many grammatical errors is not college level work – if you have problems with writing on a college level, utilize the services of the UTA Writing Center, http://www.uta.edu/owl/).
Academic Dishonesty:
I do not tolerate plagiarism or fabrication of any kind. You should adhere to the UTA policy on cheating and plagiarism (See below). If you are caught breaking this policy, you will be prosecuted to the full extent that the policy allows. You should adhere to the highest possible standards of ethical behavior for this class.Do not plagiarize, fabricate, or submit work you have done for another class. Cite all sources in your paper correctly. If you cut and paste material from the Internet without quote marks or a citation, that is plagiarism. If you paraphrase another’s material, make sure to properly cite the source.

Readings and assignment schedule

July 13 – Module 1: Models of representation & disability/ableism

Readings:

Screenings:

July 14 – Module 2: Supercrips, inspiration

Readings:

Screenings:

July 15 – Module 3: Paralympics representation

Readings:

Screenings:

July 16-17 Module 4: The power of social media to frame both visible and invisible disabilities

Readings:

Screenings:

July 20 – Module 5: Representations of autism/neurodiversity

Reaction Paper 1 based on Modules 1-4 Due July 20

Select your blog for the final paper by this date

Readings:

Browse:
Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, http://www.autisticadvocacy.org/
WrongPlanet.net, www.wrongplanet.net

Screenings:

July 21 – Module 6: Analyzing news about disability

Readings:

Screening:

  • “The Men of Atalissa,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wbz_wFT9foQ&t=4s
  • “When Billy Broke His Head and Other Tales of Wonder,” 56 min. (available on Amazon Prime. If you do not have Prime, it is available to rent for a few dollars.) Although this film is from 1995, much discrimination against disabled people is still the same. It also contains interviews with a number of important disability rights leaders.

July 22 – Module 7: Authentic media vs. disability mimicry

Readings:

Browse:

Screenings:

July 23-24 – Module 8: Creating accessible media

Reaction Paper 2 based on Modules 5-7 Due

Work on your audio description paper

Your audio description script should follow this example of a timed script:  http://www.adlabproject.eu/Docs/adlab%20book/index.html#example-ad

1. Watch the Smith-Kettlewell video description tutorials 1-7 (1-2 min. each):

2. Read at least 3 of these articles about audio description. You will need to incorporate 3 direct quotes from these articles in your 500-word discussion paper.

3. Select your 3-minute clip of a fictional TV show or film from YouTube. Do not audio describe a movie trailer (too much going on). I recommend finding a scene in the middle of the TV show or film that has both action and dialogue. Remember you are writing this script so a blind person knows what is going on when there is no dialogue.

4. I highly recommend looking at multiple clips before you select the one you will describe. The best thing to do is listen to the clip with your eyes closed. That way you can judge if there is too much dialogue so no space for audio description or too little dialogue so you have to describe everything. Here are the two audio described clips we watched in class to remind you of about no dialogue audio description:

5. You will need to play your 3-minute clip over and over to figure out where there is no dialogue so you can describe what is happening between the dialogue. You will also need to write down the dialogue for your script as well.

6. Write your audio description (AD) script with the times each dialogue and AD happens. For example, if you only have 3 seconds between dialogue, there is no time to audio describe but if there is 10 seconds, you have time to describe something important in the scene.

7. Write your 300-word discussion/reaction paper with 3 direct quotes from the readings. Mostly this will be your reaction to this assignment. Audio description is an important access tool for people who are blind or visually impaired, who want to enjoy TV and films just like everyone else.  Discuss what you learned, the challenge of creating the script, new ways you may think about accessible media now, etc.

Do you need another example of audio description to get you started? Here’s an audio-described scene from the original “Lion King:”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jT5AsjzgIC4

July 27 – Module 9: Imagery

Readings:

Screenings:

July 28 – Module 10: Advertising

Readings:

Ads:

Mini-documentary:

July 29 – Module 11: Entertainment TV and humor

Readings:

Screenings:

July 30-31 Module 12: Video games: Access and representation

Reaction Paper 3 based on Modules 9-12 Due July 31

Readings (Access):

Readings (Representation):

Screenings:

August 3-5 – Optional individual video meetings about final blog paper; let me know if you want to video chat about the paper. We can chat at whatever time is good for you. 

Audio description paper due August 3

August 3 is the last day to drop this class

  •  Canvas discussion about audio description assignment after watching guest video about audio description: Donna Mack, Disability Diplomat consultant from Arlington.

Work on final paper blog paper

August 13:  Final blog paper due

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