The politics of representing disability: exploring news coverage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the National Disability Insurance Scheme

Author/Creator ORCID




Towson University. Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies


Citation of Original Publication

Burns S, Haller B. The Politics of Representing Disability: Exploring News Coverage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Asia Pacific Media Educator [serial online]. December 1, 2015;25(2):262-277. Available from: Scopus®, Ipswich, MA. Accessed June 13, 2018.



Twenty-five years on from the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), media representation of people with disability has become even more significant. More recently, the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in Australia has placed people with disability, and the issues they face, at the forefront of political discourse. This study looks at the media coverage of the ADA and the NDIS as significant social and political landmarks in their respective countries. Using content analysis, this article explores how media representations of people with disability are substantial factors within social reform, societal inclusion and equal rights. Because of numerous barriers to participation in many countries, people with disability may only be known to the larger society through media representations. Disability rights-focused news coverage is important to a society’s awareness of disability issues, so this research contributes to a better understanding of how political issues regarding people with disabilities play out in two countries’ news media.