Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dwarfism Awareness Month

Little People of America launched an official awareness campaign early this month, declaring October Dwarfism Awareness Month. Following up on the publicity brought to issues of dwarfism during the National Conference, LPA hopes to reach out to medical community, new parents of children with dwarfism, people with dwarfism without the support of other little people, and the general public to address stereotypes and identify important resources. The campaign coincides with LPA Regional Events around the country. Coverage of the Regional Events present the opportunity to send a message around Awareness Month. Last weekend, a Dubuque Iowa newspaper covered a regional organized by District Six and Nine of LPA. The long term goal is to lobby the Federal Government to proclaim October as Dwarfism Awareness Month.

LPA was not the only group to make an October announcement. Play Station collaborated with the NBA to announce the release of a new game called NBA 10: The Inside. Late in October, Play Station sent a mass email, announcing the game to thousands, if not millions of gamers. The email included a line that was a slap in the face of Dwarfism Awareness Month, and a line that perhaps underscores the need for Dwarfism Awareness Month. The line said, "face off against midget size versions of NBA stars (yes, we said midget)." The add was hard to believe, in particular the part in parentheses. There is still a long way to go to educate the public about how most people of short stature feel about the m-word. But I interpreted the part in parentheses to say, 'we know how you feel about the m-word, and we don't care.'

Soon after Play Station sent the mass email, a member of LPA's Advocacy Committee, Jimmy Korpai, the same one who organized the FCC Complaint around the Celebrity Apprentice, reached out to the NBA, demanding an explanation. I tried to help, reaching out to Play Station. But my efforts fell fairly flat. All I could reach over the phone were customer service agents who thought I had a technical question about the logistics of the game. Jimmy though quickly reached someone at the NBA, who connected him with the right person at Play Station. Soon enough, LPA had apologies from both groups and the offensive line in the ad was removed. Evidently, my instinct about the intent of use of the m-word was wrong. According to Play Station, it was an oversight. But, whatever the intent, the ad was fixed and LPA was able to reach at least one group with the message of Dwarfism Awareness Month.

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