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Posted by Diversityworks on 15 February 2012, 1:35 pm in , ,

Media encouraged to embrace uniqueness

Diversityworks Trust  has received a grant from the Ministry of Social Development's "Think Differently" Disability Campaign to influence the media's portrayal of disability.

Media has a high conscious and sub-conscious impact on society. ’Unique Extras’ is a project that aims to use popular culture through the media to make disabled people visible in everyday life. TV drama, film and advertising reaches audiences across New Zealand. 

Diversityworks Trust seeks a part-time, self-motivated person with good media knowledge and networks to head a six-month project that will use the popularity of these media genres to influence public attitudes toward disabled people by promoting disabled and Deaf people as extras and increasing appreciation and visibility of disabled and Deaf people.

The ’Unique Extras’ Agent/Co-ordinator will work with media andproduction companies to encourage them to use disabled or Deaf people in non-featured roles in popular media including advertisements, tv dramas and films. This will provide employment opportunities for disabled people and allow a space for other actors and crew to interact with disabled people professionally.

The Agent/Co-ordinator will also work to increase the appreciation of disabled and Deaf people's talents among media/production and the frequency and breadth of diversity portrayed in screen media in a low-key, regular manner. 

We believe this is a more effective way to promote awareness than having disabled featured characters as it allows a diversity of people to be visible without over-emphasising the issue of disability — people just happen to be in scenes interacting in everyday settings. 

We wish to increase knowledge and understanding of disability by bringing images of disabled people engaging in “regular” activities into the lounges of NZers. It will increase the personal relevance of disability for all New Zealanders by reminding them that disabled people are part of their daily lives. It will mobilise personal and community action for positive change by requiring actors and crew to engage equally with disabled people and discuss this with family and friends. It will address the social environment that tolerates or accepts exclusion of disabled people by modelling natural inclusion.

This project gives disabled people in Auckland an opportunity to front up and take the personal risk of participating in a simple but high profile media-based activity to raise the frequency of disability being portrayed on tv in a low-key, regular manner, which will benefit both local and national audiences. It creates opportunities for interaction with actors whom have influence in society. It also facilitates confidence-building, networking and experience that has potential to have positive spin-offs in disabled people’s lives.

Please note: This is a new idea, the fund is for small community-based projects and we are a small organization based in Auckland, so we have focused on Auckland this time around. We don't have budget for travel but we welcome interest from people throughout NZ as opportunities could well open up outside Auckland and/or for people outside Auckland as the project unfolds.