It’s that time of year again; the time of year when TV networks begin unveiling their new shows. One of the shows to be premiering this fall on Fox stars Michael J. Fox, who has fought a long and public battle with Parkinson’s disease.

According to some advocates for the disabled, the new show — called the “Michael J. Fox Show” — could turn Fox into an important figurehead for the disabled community. In a recent opinion article, the leader of a non-profit that works to empower Americans with disabilities said that TV has a lot of power when it comes to public opinion.

In the past, shows like “The Cosby Show,” “Oprah,” “Will and Grace” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” have helped sway the public on the civil rights issues of race and homosexuality. It is anticipated that the “Michael J. Fox Show” could do the same for the disabled community.

Interestingly, it has been reported that TV has a greater effect on public opinion and policy than education or even family beliefs.

In the “Michael J. Fox Show,” which airs on Thursdays nights, Fox will play a news reporter with Parkinson’s who returns to work, likely after depending on Social Security Disability benefits to help support his family.

Advocates for the disabled say that the show could demonstrate how people with disabilities can attain success in the workforce with the proper support.

More generally, advocates say that Fox’s new show could help portray people with disabilities in a more positive light. Historically, the disabled community has not been adequately represented on television despite the fact that approximately 57 million Americans are disabled, according to the U.S. Census.

Source: USA TODAY, “Michael J. Fox a role model for disabled: Column,” Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, Sept. 25, 2013