October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. For those interested in improving the job climate for people with disabilities, it’s a time to read articles repeating familiar dismal employment figures, and attending seminars and webinars on the value of disabled people in the workforce and how to accommodate them more fairly and effectively.
Coincidentally, this year we can also watch the ten episode first season of “Away,” a warm, fairly conventional, but realistic sci-fi drama on Netflix. Along the way we can gain some remarkably fresh insights into the disability experience, including how people adjust to new disabilities and reorient themselves in the workplace.
There is plenty of space travel suspense and credible special effects on
“Away,” along with heavy doses of fairly standard human drama. But if we know what we’re looking for, we also find not one or two but several important disabled characters and disability themes, presented in surprisingly subtle and non-stereotypical ways. Commenting on “Away,” Alice Wong, disabled activist and editor of Disability Visibility: First Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century says: