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Thursday, November 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

PSAs suggest taking civility tips from the undead

The Disability Action Center Northwest launched a zombie-themed public service ad campaign about how to communicate and interact with people with disabilities. (Scott Maben)
The Disability Action Center Northwest launched a zombie-themed public service ad campaign about how to communicate and interact with people with disabilities. (Scott Maben)

The tactless, self-centered zombie, ever an easy target, is the perfect antagonist in a series of new TV spots about the best ways to interact with people with disabilities.

Four 30-second public service announcements produced by Disability Action Center Northwest and featuring an ill-mannered zombie shedding body parts will be provided to television stations and movie theaters in the Northwest.

Filmed last fall in Moscow, Idaho, the segments remind viewers not to block accessible parking spots, to keep store aisles free of obstacles, how to give directions to the blind and how to communicate effectively with the deaf.

“A lot of the videos that are out there on the market are really boring, and they tend to point the finger at the person who’s doing something wrong,” said Vicki Leeper, a marketing specialist with the nonprofit organization.

“That makes people get their back up and not be as responsive as you want them to be when we’re trying to educate them on how to interact with someone with disabilities,” Leeper said.

So they cast the undead as the dolt who parks in the spot reserved for drivers with disabilities, who points the way to the coffee shop for the man with a seeing-eye dog, who clutters up the bookstore aisles to the frustration of the woman in a wheelchair.

The admonition is, “Don’t be a zombie.”

The PSAs are set to surf guitar jams and include shots of the lumbering zombie losing a finger here, an ear there. Michelle Porter, an independent living specialist with the Disability Action Center, explains the appropriate behavior in each scenario.

“Never give directions to a blind person by pointing,” Porter advises in one of the spots. “Instead, ask him how he’d like directions, or offer to get him there.”

In another, a zombie doctor bungles a conversation with a patient who is deaf. Some medical professionals may think it’s fine to just write a note and hand it to someone who is hearing-impaired, but “when it’s a complicated procedure they’re supposed to get a qualified interpreter or at the very least use these talk-to-text programs on your phone to make sure communications happens the way it’s supposed to,” Leeper said.

Porter, who uses a wheelchair, said she frequently sees drivers who park in the striped access aisles next to disabled parking spaces.

“What people don’t realize is somebody with assisted technology, meaning a wheelchair, a walker, an oxygen tank, needs that extra room to get their wheelchair out, open up those doors and get around those doors,” she said. “So when they do things like that, they block people in.”

The PSAs were funded in part with a grant from the Northwest ADA Center in Boise and created by Dan Walker Productions in Lewiston.

The Disability Action Center serves North Idaho and Eastern Washington with offices in Coeur d’Alene, Moscow and Lewiston.

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