ABLE Assembly: Arts Better the Lives of Everyone 2021 | Theme: Intersectionality, Disability, and Arts Education ABLE Assembly: Arts Better the Lives of Everyone 2021 | Theme: Intersectionality, Disability, and Arts Education

Pre-recorded 20 Minute Session: Disability Objectification in Media

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Miles Wilcox
Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs, Private Music Lessons & Early Childhood Teacher

Miles Douglas Wilcox is a multi-instrumentalist and music teacher with a focus on students with special needs. He is in his fifth year at Berklee Institute for Arts Education and Special Needs, where he is co-teaching music classes for young children and rock band ensemble, as well as teaching private lessons in general music, composition, violin, cello, piano, and guitar. Miles taught K1-4 general music and strings at Codman Academy Charter Public School in Dorchester MA, and currently teaches K-5 general and instrumental music at Ward Elementary in Newton, MA.

In addition to presenting his work with students with special needs and trauma-informed practice at the ABLE (Arts Better the Lives of Everyone) Conference hosted by Berklee College of Music, he has also presented at the Massachusetts Music Educators Association (MMEA) Annual All-State Conference, and a webinar hosted by VSA Kennedy Center.
Miles is currently principal violist in the Me2/ Orchestra Boston, the world’s only classical music organization created for individuals with mental illnesses and the people who support them, conducted by Ronald Braunstein


The internet is saturated with viral media featuring disability; from video clips of a food service employee feeding a disabled customer, to the story of a high school electing a teen with Down syndrome being elected to prom court. This phenomenon is known as “inspiration p*rn,” a term coined by the late disability activist Stella Young. It refers to the objectification of people with disabilities in the media, which serves the purpose of making the consumers, namely people without disabilities, feel good inside. The message, either implicit or explicit, can range from, “If this disabled person can do XYZ, what’s your excuse?” to “Look how compassionate this able-bodied person is for offering basic human decency to this poor disabled soul.” It can imply that disabled people are to be pitied, portray an unrealistic view of disability, or that disability is simply a mindset. However well intentioned these stories may be, they cause harm to the disability community. This presentation will focus on how to identify objectification of disabled voices, how to center disabled voices in order to prevent perpetuating these problematic messages, and interrupt the systems of oppression towards the disability community.

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