The Power of the Media

A struggle faced by the disabled community is that they didn’t want to be seen as powerless because of their physical appearance, however, this fact proved to be an advantage.  On the one hand, media attention showed the community was capable of fighting for their own rights, regardless of their physical limitations, but it was also accompanied by an attitude of pity brought on by the increase in media attention as their visibility increased.  This is evident in the language used by newspapers and television reports throughout the country.


The New York Times


“One symbol for race discrimination in the nineteen-sixties was the absence of free choice of seats on buses.  The handicapped, whatever their race, often cannot even get on the bus–or through revolving doors, up escalators, or into classrooms and offices.  This arbitrary exclusion from society has produced an aggressive civil rights movement by the nation’s 50 million handicapped persons for mobility, education and jobs.” – February 13, 1977.



The Los Angeles Times


“People look at us and say ‘aren’t they pitiful, aren’t they sweet,’ but when it is time for them to help us get some laws that would help us get jobs…they turn and run.” – Susan Daniels, Washington D.C. protestor, April 7, 1977.



The Chicago Tribune


“The blind man was big and strong, so he allowed the man with the limp to hang onto his arm.  Together they walked into the outer office of the secretary of health, education, and welfare to claim what they called their ‘civil rights'”. – April 6, 1977




“A demonstration of men and women in wheelchairs, with Seeing Eye Dogs and sign-language interpreters is hard to deny.” – April 10, 1977

Grayson Mitchell, “Handicapped Vent Their Frustrations,” Los Angeles Times, 7       April 1977, 5.

Jon Margolis, “Blind and maimed demand their rights,” Chicago Tribune, 6 April 1977, 2.

Jon Margolis, “Protest for guaranteed rights isn’t handicapped by disabilities,” Chicago Tribune, 10 April 1977, 10.

Terri Schultz, “The Handicapped, a Minority Demanding Its Rights,” The New York Times, 13 February 1977, E8.


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