WXXI AM News

Connections: "Inspiration porn" and how to create more inclusive environments

Jan 30, 2017

Have you heard the term, “inspiration porn?” A recent episode of the sitcom Speechless on ABC explored the subject. It refers to when able-bodied people characterize people with disabilities as objects of inspiration or one-dimensional saints because they live with physical or developmental differences.

People with disabilities and disability rights activists say the term can be harmful and insulting because examples of “inspiration porn” are usually meant to benefit able-bodied people. They point to memes like the one featuring a swimmer with one leg and the phrase, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” Critics also say the term shifts focus away from challenges faced by people with disabilities – accessibility, high unemployment rates, and more.

We explore different perspectives on the issue, and discuss how to create more inclusive environments. Our guests:

  • Brendan O’Riordan, communications officer for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office who was born with cerebral palsy
  • Dresden Engle, PR professional, actress, and mother of a 5th grader with cerebral palsy
  • Dr. Cyndi Kerber-Gowan, faculty member in the School of Education at Nazareth College, and faculty liaison for the LifePrep@Naz program
  • Bob Ike, superintendent of Palmyra-Macedon School District

This program is presented as part of Dialogue on Disability Week – a partnership between WXXI and Al Sigl Community of Agencies – in conjunction with the Herman and Margaret Schwartz Community Series. Dialogue on Disability is supported in part by The Golisano Foundation with additional support from the Fred L. Emerson Foundation.