ABC TV show deals directly with disability stereotypes

May 9, 2017

The best way to shatter disability stereotypes is to let people with disability do it. The ABC television series You Can’t Ask That provides a forum for doing just that.

The format of the program is very simple. It is people fronting the camera with no backdrop, studio sets or other scenery to distract you. They read out questions sent in anonymously by the general public and provide their answers, in their own words.

Six things that we love about the show:

1. It’s not just about disability, although people with disabilities are well represented. That shows that stereotypes and lack of understanding extends to a range of people.

2. The questions are honest, not politically correct and get an honest answer, sometimes showing that there is often no straight-forward answer about some issues – like should short-statured people use their small height as a means to earn money?

3. The program is long enough to allow a range of questions and answers to give a full picture of a person’s life experience. That takes it beyond mere curiosity to viewing a well-rounded person with the same aspirations, frustrations and needs as everybody else.

4. By focussing on a different area of disability in each episode (e.g. blindness, wheelchair users, short-statured people, facial difference, Down syndrome) it shows the massive range of disability within a “category” and how different the experience of each person is. This helps to show that people with disabilities are not just a “condition”.

5. The people with disabilities are identified at the end, along with which state or territory they live in. This reinforces that they are real people, living real lives.

6. It helps to educate the general public about what is okay to ask and acceptable ways to deal with different types of disability. Always it’s about treating the person as a person, not a disability – just like how you want to be treated.

You Can’t Ask That screens on ABC1 on Wednesdays at 9 pm

Alex Varley, CEO

Previous episodes can be found on ABC iView:

Wheelchair users

People with Down syndrome

People with a facial difference

Blind people

Short-statured people

Other content like this

SBS dating show Undressed has included people with disabilities.

Subscribe to our newsletter