Inclusive disability imagery guide [Plus, the top libraries]

Now more than ever, visuals play a crucial role in all forms of communication. The significance of diversity and inclusivity in marketing is essential in allowing you to connect with your audience.

Inclusive imagery isn’t just a trend. Study after study has shown that people prefer to work with inclusive businesses. Inclusiveness isn’t just the right thing; it’s just good practice.

This blog post highlights an essential aspect of inclusivity and the ethical use of including images of people with disabilities. It focuses on understanding and representing the experiences of people with disabilities, who comprise a significant portion of our community.

Our goal is for businesses to show the real diversity of Australians in their marketing by using disability pictures respectfully.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

The importance of representation in marketing

Diving into the A series paper sizes, you’ll find a logical and user-friendly system that scales from the grand A0 to the compact A6. Each step down the series halves the size of the previous paper, maintaining a consistent aspect ratio that is pleasing to the eye and easy to design.

A0 starts the series as the giant, ideal for big posters or architectural plans. Moving down to A4, the most familiar friend in offices everywhere, we find the perfect size for documents and letters—A6 rounds off the series and is ideal for postcards or small flyers.

This range ensures a size for every need, balancing visual appeal and practicality. With this guide, selecting the right A series paper size will be a breeze, enhancing your projects with just the right touch.

Understanding disability

This element encompasses a broad spectrum of conditions affecting a person’s physical, mental, or sensory abilities. This recognition is essential in marketing to show people authentically, avoiding stereotypes.

It should reflect diverse experiences accurately. It shows that it is different for every diverse group of people, helping us move away from a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, it promotes creating accessible and inclusive environments for everyone.

In marketing portrayals, it’s essential to move beyond cliches. For example, it’s common for people with disabilities to be seen solely as sources of inspiration to others. The images should show people in different situations, like doing daily activities, working various jobs, and enjoying hobbies. It should reflect their complexity.

Imagery showcasing people with disabilities in everyday situations promotes dignity, independence, mobility, and inclusion.
two people taking a photo together at a social event

Guidelines for ethical representation of people with disabilities in images

Authentic representation

Try to use authentic images of people with disabilities rather than relying on actors. This approach respects the lived experiences of individuals but also contributes to more accurate and meaningful portrayals.

Diverse perspectives

Ensure materials reflect the diversity within the community. This means displaying different disabilities, some that are visible and some that are not. It also means including people of all ages, body types, ethnicities, and lifestyles to represent real life.

Consultation and participation

Engage with individuals and advocacy groups during marketing content planning and creation. Their insights can help create respectful and accurate portrayals, pointing out sensitive aspects that may not be obvious.

Avoid stereotypes

Steer clear of clichés and stereotypes, such as portraying individuals with disabilities only as inspirations or victims. Instead, portray them in various roles that reflect their full social participation.

Focus on individuality

Focus on the person first rather than the disability. This method recognises people as individuals with interests, talents, and stories beyond their disabilities.

Accessibility of marketing

Ensure all materials are accessible to people with various disabilities. Include alt text for images, captions, and video transcripts. Websites should be accessible with screen readers for navigation.

Positive language

Use language that respects the dignity and autonomy of individuals with disabilities. Use respectful language preferred by the individuals represented, avoiding outdated terms with negative connotations.

Adhere to all relevant laws and ethical standards regarding privacy, consent, and representation. Ensure you have permission before using photos and stories. Ensure that marketing does not discriminate against people with disabilities.

two people smiling at a cafe looking at a laptop

How to source respectful images of people with disabilities

Option 1) Organise a photoshoot

Ensure that pictures accurately and respectfully represent the diverse and meaningful aspects of people’s lives.

Also, involving photographers with disabilities can bring more depth to the images for these projects. They will bring their unique perspective that can capture the essence in a way that stock photos usually cannot. Their insights and experiences can help portray disability in a realistic and stereotype-free manner.

Ensuring the process is respectful and consensual is equally essential. Obtaining informed consent from all subjects before capturing and using their images is critical. Share how you will use the photos, ensuring the portrayal aligns with the subjects’ views and comfort levels.

It is crucial to consider the impact of images and how they can influence perceptions and attitudes towards disability. By being mindful of these factors, you can create a more inclusive and respectful environment for discussing disability.

Option 2) Sourcing stock images

Regular stock image websites may not have diverse representations. However, there are specialised libraries that offer authentic and respectful images of people with disabilities. These libraries provide a more accurate and inclusive portrayal of individuals with disabilities. They can be a valuable resource for businesses and organisations looking to represent diversity in their marketing materials.

When looking for pictures, choose ones that show a variety of people with disabilities genuinely. Some libraries may collaborate with organisations dedicated to disability advocacy, signalling their dedication to producing respectful imagery.

When choosing images, assessing them critically for authenticity, respectfulness, and avoiding stereotypes is crucial.

Images libraries with dedicated collections

Image libraries contain many different images. It is essential to check these images carefully. This process ensures that they respectfully depict people with disabilities. Use our checklist above to ensure the photos are respectful and inclusive.

Dedicated libraries

Dedicated libraries have more robust vetting processes, and the images are more likely to be suitable.

How inclusive is your advertising?

In wrapping up, let’s hammer home the critical role of inclusivity and ethical representation in our marketing efforts. This approach enriches our marketing narratives and, more importantly, contributes to a more inclusive society.

We’re all on a learning curve here, and the journey towards genuinely inclusive marketing is ongoing. We must keep the conversation alive within our community, sharing insights, challenges, and victories.

Consider creating a guide for your organisation; the ADCET recommendations provide an excellent starting point.

Here’s a call to action for you: Take a moment to review your current marketing materials. Are they as inclusive as they could be? Do they portray people with disabilities authentically and respectfully? If you’re unsure, it may be time for a refresh.

Commit to making ethical representation a cornerstone of your marketing strategy moving forward. Let’s make our marketing matter and lead the way in building a more inclusive Australia.