BBC - Ouch! (disability) - Features - Disability is everywhere: ITV, airport scanners, assisted suicide

Home > Features > Disability is everywhere: ITV, airport scanners, assisted suicide

Disability is everywhere: ITV, airport scanners, assisted suicide

by Simon Minty

14th February 2010

Behind every headline and situation there's a disability angle not often talked about. Simon Minty kicks off a new regular series for BBC Ouch!
Simon Minty
Recently I've been doing the occasional stint as the newsreader for the Ouch! talk show. When gathering items to discuss, it's been interesting to notice that disability permeates so many every day stories. Often we don't notice this or just take it for granted but it's not always highlighted by the journalist. You might argue that not mentioning it is a good thing as it suggests difference is natural - as disabled people we are part of life's landscape. However, it is a shame sometimes when the relevance to disability isn't given an acknowledging nod as it can confirm the notion that disability is 'over there', a separate thing rather than something touching so many things.
Adam Crozier ITV chief executive
Let me give you an example of what I mean. I mentioned on the February talk show, the recent appointment of Adam Crozier to the role of Chief Executive of ITV plc. The disability connection? Adam is also Chair of the Employers' Forum on Disability, a body that promotes better employment and access for staff and customers with impairments. This secondary role means Adam is pretty cool and down, (as much as captains of industry can be 'cool and down') with disability. So whilst I'm not suggesting Adam will ask Mat Fraser and Liz Carr from Ouch! to present the 10 o'clock news this summer, I am suggesting it does mean that, when disability pops up in meetings at ITV, Adam won't shy away or switch off, pun intended. Indeed he will be interested, and no doubt surprise a few of the executive team with his enthusiasm.

So although disability might be everywhere, sometimes spotting the link is not easy.
Shahrukh Khan
Bollywood mega-star Shahrukh Khan (not disabled as far as I know) explained his experiences with the new scanning machines at Heathrow airport when he appeared on BBC One's Tonight with Jonathan Ross on 5th February 2010. With tongue firmly in cheek, Khan claimed his scanned naked images were being printed and circulated by scanner operators. He went on to say some of the airport staff asked him to sign them. British Airports Authority (BAA) who own and run Heathrow strongly deny this.

So the disability angle? Indulge me for a moment. Some disabled people are a little worried about invasion of personal areas with these all-seeing new security scanning machines. I'm one of them as I have bits and bobs about my body that are different and I'd rather keep them private (I'm referring to unusual joints or limbs before you get carried away looking for a story that really isn't here). Indeed, I actively stopped posing for 'medical research' photos at Great Ormond Street Hospital once I reached 16. Khan's story albeit said in jest, perpetuates doubt about BAA's claim that naked pictures are not possible. The mega movie star has kindly raised the concern many of us have.
Alexander McQueen
Alexander McQueen, the uber-fashion designer sadly died recently at the age of 40. I've been reading about the influences and trends credited to him; would we have worn very low waist-banded trousers without him? He is recognised as the creator of sculpture through art-like clothing.

When I heard he had died, my genuine sense of loss was for another reason. You're probably getting my drift now. In the late 90's he used disabled models both on the catwalk and in the magazine Dazed and Confused with Nick Knight taking the photos. Using disabled models had been done before but McQueen and Knight raised the game and I'm not sure they have been surpassed. The images weren't clumsy, they were classy, it wasn't subtle, they were unapologetic. They oozed coolness and dripped sexiness. Collaborations like that with talented people is one of the times we should use the word inspiring.
Sir Terry Pratchett
One recent and high profile story, clearly related to disability, has been the debate around assisted suicide profiled in both the Panorama documentary and Sir Terry Pratchett's recent Dimbleby Lecture. But one aspect of Sir Terry's talk has been relatively unmentioned, and it was the best bit for me.

He explained that, due to Alzheimer's, he wouldn't be able to read his lengthy speech and so asked Tony Robinson - the actor known mostly for playing Baldrick in Black Adder - to read it for him. Sir Terry sat beside Tony, nodding or smiling as another read his thoughts. Within moments of the speech starting, the live audience and me watching at home adjusted. I didn't give it a second thought. Until now. Such support is a reasonable adjustment, like using a sign language interpreter or easy read document perhaps. I love the fact that no one brought it up, (except for me, now) and no one questioned it. I've not heard anyone imply this adjustment was inappropriate nor claim it devalues his opinion, regardless of whether you agree with him or not. We simply accepted it.

So all we need now is for everyone else's adjustments to be accepted as the norm. And for me to stop looking for disability everywhere. But it is everywhere and I like to think life's a little richer because of it.

Bookmark with...

What are these?

Live community panel

Our blog is the main place to go for all things Ouch! Find info, comment, articles and great disability content on the web via us.

Mat and Liz
Listen to our regular razor sharp talk show online, or subscribe to it as a podcast. Spread the word: it's where disability and reality almost collide.

More from the BBC

BBC Sport

Disability Sport

All the latest news from the paralympics.

Peter White

In Touch

News and views for people who are blind or partially sighted.

BBC Radio 4

You & Yours

Weekdays 12.40pm. Radio 4's consumer affairs programme.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.