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Can the Media Discourse Surrounding the Paralympic Games Alter the Perception of Disability Held by Children With Disabilities and Their Families?


This qualitative and exploratory study aimed to investigate whether contact with media content related to the Paralympic Games (PG) could affect the perception of disability held by children with disabilities (CWD) and their families. The research featured 12 CWD not involved in sports and 13 of their relatives. It consisted of two sessions, one before and another after participants viewed two videos related to the PG that showed athletes and other people with disabilities (PWD) successfully playing sports and/or performing other activities. In both sections, we asked them to write the first five words that came to mind upon hearing the expression PWD. Next, we conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews to explore their views on disability. We computed the words mentioned in the first dynamic and conducted an inductive reflexive thematic analysis of the interviews. Before the videos were shown, the words written most were “difficulty,” “problem,” and “limitation.” During the interviews, they focused on impairments and difficulties associated with disability. Following the videos, the most predominant written words were “overcoming” and “capacity.” Throughout the interviews, they focused more on the potential and capabilities of PWD. This study suggests that materials such as those that we used can help CWD and their families develop a more positive view of the potential and capabilities of PWD. These materials might also be used in other contexts (e.g., in schools and community education programs), especially in places where it is still rare to see PWD practicing sports and performing other activities such as those shown in the videos.