Our Own Media, Our Own Stories

(NOTE: I've since left the Independent Living Center, but believe this is still topical and an important way to inspire people to tell their own stories free of the mythologies that people without disabilities too often have about us.)

You’ve seen this scenario before. Alerted by your friends, you sit down to watch a story on the evening news about someone with a disability, perhaps a friend of yours. But instead of the real story you expected, you hear, “Isn’t he courageous? Mr. X has such an awful disability, but because he does, he sets an example for the rest of us!” Or you see a politician next to a person in a wheelchair, “We want to help people who are truly disabled!” in a tone of voice that suggests that you’re not really disabled, even as you’re watching this with the poorly closed-captioned text on your TV. “Work harder and stop whining!” goes another quote on the tube. Meanwhile, your roommate with a mental illness gets hardly a mention, except as the psychopath on the latest TV-movie.

As a person with several “invisible disabilities” I am keenly aware of the extent to which I, and others in my situation, are ignored or stereotyped. I constantly hear, from other people with disabilities, “We are ignored. We aren’t taken seriously. We aren’t the ‘poor child in a wheelchair.’”

Time to change that. Time to make TV shows by, of and about all people with disabilities.


I’m Dave Moisan and I am the Chairperson of the Video Working Group at the Independent Living Center. Some of you may have seen me during the ADA Day 1998 festivities at Derby Wharf, videotaping the event. You may have seen the five-minute (captioned!) public-service announcement promoting the event on local cable systems, or even seen some of your friends in it (like Shawn, Rob, Hugh and Scott.) Because the ADA Day PSA was so well received, I volunteered to make video production a permanent part of the Center’s activities, and our Video Working Group has had its first meeting.

Why me? I have been a long-time member of Salem Access Television (SATV), the public-access TV studio in Salem. I am a very experienced member who has done everything, from camerawork, lighting and directing, to graphics, engineering and postproduction for over 70 shows covering a variety of topics. You may have seen 285 Live, Michele Johnson’s human-interest show in which Tiffany, Robin and friends promoted ADA Day. I was closely involved with that show and worked with Michele to get ADA Day, and the Center promoted; it was one of our best shows of the year.

As a Salem-based organization, the Independent Living Center—and its members—is eligible to use SATV’s facilities and to receive training at no extra charge. What can you do? Plenty! We have five members on our working group already but we can use more! What do you need to know? Nothing! Salem Access TV provides all the training you’ll need. Just bring your ideas, energy and a few hours each week!

After only our first meeting, we already have ideas for no less than 4 projects! I’d love it if your idea’s one of them. Shoot some video. Have lots of fun. And make a difference for you, your friends and your community.

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Last updated on April 26th, 2003
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