Tag Archives: allergies

Visualizing Invisible Disabilities

Madhavi Mallapragada discusses representations of food allergies in new media in HI’s Faculty Fellows Seminar on Health, Well-Being, Healing
By Saralyn McKinnon-Crowley

Food allergies are an invisible disability; but because food allergies are not easily visualized or conceptualized in the public sphere, they provide a useful starting point for thinking about how new and established media portray individuals with disabilities. In recent years, more children have been diagnosed with food allergies than ever before. Schools are required to accommodate these students’ needs under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Schools allow students with food allergies who have 504 plans to carry EpiPens and other medical devices, and to carry an emergency care plan document outlining recommended treatment in case of an allergic reaction. The role of media in capturing this invisible disability potentially concerns how individual teachers and administrators, who might not be fully aware of a child’s food allergy accommodation needs, are able to conceptualize these needs. Teachers might receive insufficient training about or exposure to the signs of an allergic reaction, leading to tragic results. Continue reading Visualizing Invisible Disabilities