Image: Scope UK advert. Two men with faces missing. Caption reads: "We're disabled. Not people to look straight through".
Companies would like to support better inclusion and portray people with disability more realistically in their communications and advertising. We find that they often don’t know where to start or what are the easy approaches that are not going to cost lots of money? Here are our four suggestions for better portrayal that you can implement easily:
Mind your language
People are always worried about political correctness and getting tied in knots about how you are supposed to refer to different disabilities or describe a person with disability. Our free resources include the Attitude Foundation guidelines for content writers, a simple, clear guide to how you deal with this issue.
Our tip: Send the link to our guide to your copywriters, social media handlers and content writers.
Image is everything
How diverse are the images that you use on your website, social media posts, brochures, annual reports, e-newsletters? Do you always fall back on the same old stock images that don’t really reflect the broad range of people? It’s so easy to include some images of people with disability. They are using your products and services, so why not include them? There are a number of image sites, like Photoability, that have genuine pictures of people with disability.
Our tip: Avoid the disability image clichés outlined in this great blog on disability stock photography.
If you are doing a new photoshoot for a catalogue or a new TV commercial, include some people with disability. It’s not token, it’s just properly reflecting the diversity of society and targeting the likely buyers or your products and services.
Our tip: If you’re not sure how to get going on this, start with the excellent Starting with Julius, a project about diversity in advertising run by one of our board members Catia Malaquias.
Don’t be fooled by stereotypes
When you are including people with disability, whether it’s in campaign materials, social media or advertising, don’t just drop into the regular stereotypes. Rather than looking for an “inspirational” person with disability, or worse a “pitiful” image, why not just an ordinary person in an ordinary setting? This is just like the rest of your staff and customers.
Our tip: By including realistic portrayal of people with disability you are talking direct to your customers with disability. Show your communications team our website section on disability and advertising to get some ideas of what to do (and not do).