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“Ironside” Rolls Into Our Homes in its Series Premiere Tonight

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One of the many Ironside show promotion images on the internet.

In its modern remake, NBC will revive the late ’60s-mid ’70s television hit, Ironside, tonight at 10 pm EST / 9 pm CST.  Ironside tells the story of Detective Robert Ironside, played by actor Blair Underwood, who does not let a spinal cord injury he suffered from a bullet wound keep him from catching the bad guys in New York.  From the previews of the remake, Ironside tells the story of how Underwood’s character doesn’t allow being in a wheelchair to slow him down, or affect his ability to do the best job possible for the city he serves.

I’m always ecstatic when television networks create programming that displays the strength and perseverance of people with disabilities, whether the actors themselves are able-bodied or disabled.  This is the second television show on NBC’s Fall 2013 line-up that tells the story of a person with a disability.  The Michael J. Fox Show debuted last week, & it showcases the serious and lighthearted moments of someone living with Parkinson’s disease.  Michael J. Fox, whose life the self-titled show is based from, has mentioned in several interviews that creating such a show was empowering for himself as both an actor and a person with a debilitating condition, and he hoped that others will understand the the day-to-day triumphs and struggles of someone with a chronic health condition.

I believe programming like the Ironside is a great step in the right direction in allowing the American and international community to see how normal the lives of people with disabilities are, in comparison to their own.  Creating that level of awareness helps to break down the stereotypes that exist about those with disabilities.  Personally, I elated that Underwood is a wheelchair user for this role; his role sheds light into how one experiences life at only 4 feet high, which is the average seated height of a wheelchair user.  The fact that Underwood’s mother has been a wheelchair user for about 10 years gives me the impression that he truly grasps the obstacles of those on wheels from interacting with his mother over the years.  When Underwood speaks about his role and the influence of his mother, you quickly realize that embodying Det. Robert Ironside was something he took seriously.  Seeing that level of seriousness displays the empathy and respect Underwood has for those who wheel around all across the country.

I, personally, give my full support to this new series.  I plan to watch every episode, and I’m hoping that it receives a huge following, both in ratings and on social media.  We need more programs like Ironside on our television screens; this is definitely a positive step in the right direction as far as advocacy and creating awareness surrounding the lives of people with disabilities.

About Vilissa Thompson, LMSW

Vilissa is the Founder & CEO of Ramp Your Voice!, an organization she created to establish herself as a Disability Rights Consultant & Advocate. Ramp Your Voice! is a prime example of how macro-minded Vilissa truly is, and her determination to leave a giant "tire track mark" on the world.

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