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As an artist with a disability, you will probably get media attention. It could be naturally occurring or some promoter would be keen to use your disability for promotion. There are ways that you can use the media for the benefit of yourself or people with disabilities.

Firstly, I am generally against covering someone just because they have a disability. If you want that kind of publicity, fine. If your goal is to get known this can be beneficial. I think with bringing up this point, I have prevented one interview but as stated in my previous blog, I have no desire to be famous.

Neil deGrease Tyson says he doesn't do interviews if they mention his race. I think that having a disability is a point of interest but I don't like to be covered specifically because of my disability unless I have something to promote!

Language and the media

Enforcing I try to make sure the media covers me the way that I want in terms of the language they use. I don't mean if it is a positive or negative story. One of my pet hates is reading that I suffer from a disability. It's overly negative language and enforces negative views. You can call me the language police, I don't care! My thinking has actually evolved. Since nobody agrees on language, journalists should cover people with disabilities how they personally want.

On the other side, it is up to you to send such instructions. I always do this at the beginning of the process. Some of the instructions could be not covering your disability in an overly negative tone and painting you as super-inspirational. But it is solely up to you. You can also tell them it is a good idea to use the language the interviewee wants when covering somebody's disability. This will benefit the disability community overall.

If you want to promote your work or event you can use "minority media" to do so. Minority media basically caters to specific minorities: my own term! Attitude is one example for the disability community; Maori Television is another one. GLBT also have their media. Depending on the outlet ,they will probably be happy to do an article on you. You may have to schedule it in advance. I say use whatever publicity that you can.

People use the media for their own purposes all the time. if you can use it to for good, go ahead.

Thane Pullan is an Arts Access Advocate, and a comedian, writer and accessibility software developer. 

How to handle the media as an artist with a disability


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