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Changing Perceptions One Superhero At a Time!

The 3 young women striving to change perceptions of disability within the media.

Firstly, a short introduction to my interest in this topic, I actually wrote my dissertation at University about the inadequacies of accessibility within the media for those with a disability. The title is 'Investigating how UK Television Broadcasting has become more accessible to deaf viewers and are there still improvements to be made?' to answer this in short, it has become more accessible to deaf viewers since television's inception specifically the BBC, but regarding the statistics in my findings, there is still a long way to go to improve services of terrestrial television channels for deaf and blind viewers.

Subtitles have been improved significantly compared to other accessibility services, and this is mostly due to technological advances but also from the public need and want of an improved service which they have achieved through the use of campaigning for better access.

Other services such as signing and audio description haven't progressed as much but through my research, they did appear to be on the rise. The reason they can't improve them as much as they could is largely due to the broadcasting guidelines giving the main terrestrial channels yearly quotas to meet on how much accessibility they need to get, which is all well and good but the quotas are so low it's ridiculous.

To learn more about this follow this link - ACCESS SERVICES REPORT.

Woman facing away from camera tying her hair in a messy bun, looking out onto a green grass field

After reading all that you're probably wondering 'Well, what's being done to change and improve this? Who are the 3 women you've mentioned and what can I do to help?' Read on to find out more!


The first inspirational woman has recently made her mark on our screens through the increasingly popular television show Love Island, more specifically TASHA GHOURI.

Rising to fame on Love Island, Tasha was able to share her ‘superpower’ with viewers right from the beginning of the show in a special moment that she shared with her fellow love islanders letting them know about her cochlear implant.

I think this resonated with me and so many others as she switched around the perception of wearing a cochlear implant as a hindrance to something that provided empowerment to those who have one. The sheer act of turning something that is so prevalent in your life into something positive is an ideology and mindset that can apply to so many other things such as mental health, illness, and anything!

My takeaway from this, as a cancer survivor myself, is that yes, there have been lows BUT I’m still here and feel almost superhuman to have overcome those struggles. The representation of Tasha speaking about this on a hit show like Love Island shows that ITV is slowly trying to improve their reputation to be more inclusive and accessible regarding finding talent and sharing this talent to inspire its viewers.

Dynamic Dancer

The next woman of great importance is the star of Eastenders and Strictly Come Dancing 2021 herself; ROSE AYLING-ELLIS!

Rose is one of the pioneers for representing deafness on television in recent years, by using sign language as an actress on Eastenders and introducing people to the fact that people really can accomplish anything given the right mindset, and by not allowing their physical or mental health stop them from achieving their goals. This is evidenced by the fact that Rose literally won Strictly Come Dancing in 2021, the first deaf contestant to appear on Strictly and went on to win not just the competition but also the hearts of the public.

One powerful moment on the show that was inspiring moment for us all is when Rose and her professional dance partner Giovanni stopped the music halfway through their routine; they carry on dancing without missing a step, giving us an insight into what dancing is like for Rose and showing that you don't need to hear to dance.

The ground-breaking moment on the show caused a huge increase in sign-ups for training programmes in British Sign Language which shows how monumental representation in the media can have on changing perceptions of disability and striving towards a more accessible world.

Youtube Queen

Our final superhero striving to change perceptions of disability and create raised awareness is the queen of YouTube herself; MOLLY BURKE!

She began sharing her personal message and advocating for disability rights after setting up her Youtube Channel. I remember witnessing her journey as she filmed many collaborations with other popular YouTubers I was interested in at the time, which shows the ever-changing way in which changing perceptions can occur through any form of media either through social media, YouTube, or terrestrial UK television channels.

Molly is an influencer in all things fashion and beauty as well as sharing her story on Retinitis Pigmentosa, which she was diagnosed with at 4 years old, she is another strong woman who doesn't let her disability get in the way of her living her life. Influencers like Molly are great representations in the media, especially on YouTube, as young people will have better access to seeing these videos meaning that changing perceptions of disability can reach a wider audience than just on either BBC or ITV programmes.

YouTube has always been a great way to connect and gather more interest around a certain topic; as viewers can do a quick google search and find people with similar views and motivations as themselves to grow a positive community to create change.

What can you do to help?

Give these three superheroes a follow on their socials (If you click on their names within the article it'll take you straight to their Instagram page!) and help them to spread their message to more and more people!

We can change the stigma surrounding disability and improve accessibility within the media, which will help change perceptions worldwide if we work together!


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