The inclusion of people with disabilities in the SBS television dating program Undressed is valuable in guiding viewers on how to talk to people with disability and in including them as part of a mainstream program.
Episode Seven of the series included Chris, who is a wheelchair user, and Julie who is not disabled. Unusually the date was a success (as most of the matched pairings on the program do not lead to an ongoing relationship) and part of that is through the way that Julie asked questions and offered help to Chris.
According to Carly Findlay's commentary on the program this approach where Julie “saw beyond the wheelchair” shows that people with disability lead everyday lives and are worth getting to know and being involved in a relationship.
Findlay applauds SBS for casting a diverse range of people for Undressed and it can help guide people who are not sure how to talk to or interact with a person with a disability.
Overall she gives the approach the status of a good start in inclusion, but notes that Chris (and a previous participant Johnny) is conventionally attractive. She would like to see a development which includes some “confronting disability traits that makes able-bodied individuals uncomfortable – stimming (repetitive physical movements), dribbling, the need for support workers, speech differences, loose skin flakes and more.”
The other issue is that not all disabilities are “obvious” such as Chris’ wheelchair being an instantly recognisable sign of disability.
Undressed can be viewed on SBS On Demand. Please note although you can browse the series immediately, to watch the program you need to register and log in.