“We can’t be what we can’t see”(Innes, 2018): A deconstructive analysis of how a child with a disability is included in a Playschool “through the windows” vignette.

Year: 2019

Author: Carmel, Julie, Rouse, Elizabeth

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The exclusion and/or (mis)representation of (dis)ability in a range of contexts, especially the media presents a problem of seeing when childhoods are represented within normalised frames. Innes (2018) states: “We can’t be what we can’t see” and this is especially so for young children who are already potentially marginalised in such spaces. If children do not see themselves represented and included in programs specifically those made for them, or if their representation is deficit, it may influence their sense of self. We can argue that identity formation is at the heart of knowledge of self and thus transposes into knowledge of others as well as ways of operating in the world.

This presentation is an explanation/ exploration of research being undertaken which demonstrates how children with (dis)abilities are included and portrayed through a detailed analysis of a vignette from Australasian children’s television programme - Playschool® - that includes a child with a physical disability visiting a local library. The researcher video-recorded this vignette“Callaghan goes to the library”, and systematically analysed a series of ways of “seeing” the child with a (dis)ability, using a Derridean deconstructive lens. The authors’ claim is that media is a form of text (visual) , and offers varied perspectives therefore applying Derrida’s deconstruction analysis to this vignette is valid. Using a Derridean lens, the event, the through the windows vignette, “Callaghan goes to the library”, can be analysed not as an action that happens, in time but more as an action that is fluid in time. This methodology offers a critical lens on the portrayal of children with (dis)abilities from an outsider (non- lived experience) perspective, with note that the author has some insider (lived experience) due to having a grand-daughter with a disability and her desire for her to be seen as more than her disability, as highlighted in this quote from her…. “I wish people could see me first and what I can do instead of seeing me in a wheelchair first.”

C. O’Neill (2016)

Key References:

Innes. G. (2018) Podcast: We cannot be what we cannot see. Bluenotes.https://bluenotes.anz.com/posts/2018/05/podcast—we-cannot-be-what-we-caannot-see [https://bluenotes.anz.com/posts/2018/05/podcast%E2%80%94we-cannot-be-what-we-caannot-see]

O’Neill, C. (2016) Personal Conversation