Students to present at 5th annual Middle Georgia Diversity in Education Conference
Three special education majors are on a mission to change the way people think when it comes to media and the portrayal of people with disabilities.
“We actually viewed two films in one of our classes and it really broke down how the media showed people with disabilities versus the reality,” said Hannah Ballingall, junior special education major.
Ballingall along with junior special education majors Ashley Culp and Jules Shipe researched different films for their project and focused on “Rain Man,” “Murderball,” and “The Intouchables.”
“What we saw in ‘Murderball’ and ‘The Intouchables’ were that they weren’t your typical movies about people with disabilities,” said Culp. “It really focused on the fact that despite these disabilities, they can do anything and they’re just normal people. But, we did find that these two movies were the exception.”
In their research, they found that many people with disabilities in media had similar traits including usually being male, having the task of humanizing other characters in the film, being seen as inferior and eventually dying.
This is where the disconnection comes in according to the trio.
“This isn’t the reality of who people with disabilities are,” said Shipe. “What we hope is that people become more aware and don’t make these assumptions just based off of what they see in media.”
The three, who have all worked with adults and children with disabilities, know first hand that each person is unique.
“If you meet one person with autism, that’s it—you’ve just met one person with autism,” said Culp, who has worked with children with autism in the past. “No one person with autism is exactly the same—just like you and me.”
The three will present their project at the 5th Annual Middle Georgia Diversity in Education Conference Monday, March 24 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m in Magnolia Ballroom. The theme of this year’s conference is “Elephants in the Room: Diversity and Privilege in Education.”
“The purpose of the conference is to provide students with opportunities for dialogue, collaboration and explorations of issues surrounding the marginalization of diverse populations with students from other universities,” said Dr. Nicole DeClouette, assistant professor of special education.
The conference is in collaboration with Fort Valley State University and will feature 15 breakout sessions, six poster sessions, five roundtable discussions and will end with a talk by Abraham Deng, one of the lost boys of Sudan.
For more information or to register online visit http://diversityconference.gcsu.edu.