Disability awareness in graphic design is about representing all groups in the images we use in advertising. Since August is Disability Awareness Month we are focusing solely on disability, however all groups, women, the LGBTG community, and ethic groups should all be included in your stock of images. Showing more disabled people using your product or services will increase their acceptance, increase your market share and increase a positive view of your business.
Advertising through the years has always represented what life was supposed to be. A two-parent family, middle income, nice neighborhood, and two children: a boy and a girl! Very similar to the families that were shown on television at the time. But today, realism is what drives the graphic design part of advertising.
Inclusion in the everyday life of our country is what many groups have fought for. From women, ethnic groups, LGBTQ community to more recently, the disabled, are being portrayed in graphic design, entertainment, and advertising. Advertising has always been about portraying perfection or perceived perfection, so portraying the disabled was more or less taboo. The thought was that no customer wanted to see imperfection and companies wanted you to see their product used by a visually refined version of their families or selves.
“Diversity” has become a keyword in advertising, but most advertising is not inclusive of the disabled, and this is called “ableism”. Think sexism or ageism but for the disabled. As the advertising community changed to accommodate ethnic groups, women, and now the LBGTQ community, it must change to accommodate the disabled community in all its variety.
At the beginning of this change, many of the representations of these communities were stereotypes of the community. As graphic designers and users of advertising for our businesses, we need to ensure that our advertising is all-inclusive of the disabled in a positive way. Showing more disabled using your product or services will increase the acceptability of the disabled, increase your market share and increase a positive view of your business.