Beth A. Representing Disability in an Ableist World: Essays on Mass Media

Document Type

Book Review

Subject Area(s)

Languages, Literatures and Cultures


Beth A. Haller's Representing Disability in an Ableist World: Essays on Mass Media brings a scholar's expertise from communication and mass media to bear on a study of representations of disability. This collection of essays seeks to inform students, researchers and activists about representations of disability in the media as they pursue various research projects (v). The introduction asserts that the essays were "extracted from an academic format and the sometimes convoluted academic jargon and transformed into a more readable style" (viii). The collection thus actively reaches out to audiences who would not normally interact with disability studies. Each essay in the collection, furthermore, describes representations of disability in political cartoons, newspapers, television and advertising, shedding light on previously overlooked areas. It studies situations as diverse as disability in the legal system (Chapter 5) and disability on television (Chapter 8).

The collection includes several revised essays as well as new work. The revisions include personal anecdotes, contractions and colloquial speech. The collection further demonstrates its utility as a teaching tool, particularly for undergraduate students, through its detailed descriptions of basic analytical tools in communication and mass media studies (Chapter 2). In some cases, however, the collection struggles to bridge the gap between students and scholars already familiar with disability studies. For example, it occasionally fails to explain jargon. In this way, the collection points to disability scholars' struggle to identify and define their audiences. Despite this, Haller's effort to reach both scholars and students is a valuable goal, one that few even attempt to reach.


Janzen, Rebecca. "Beth A. Haller’s Representing Disability in an Ableist World: Essays on Mass Media." Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, 1(2), 2012, pp. 109-111. Retrieved from