What do you think of the images we see of disabled people? — Scope | Disability forum
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What do you think of the images we see of disabled people?

Timm Member Posts: 7 Connected
Hi, Im Timm and I am a photographer.  I am working on a project at the minute around images of disabled people and the lack of genuine and real life representations of disabled people.

There is such a lack of representation of disabled people in all our media and we saw a gap in stock images of 'normal' images, by that I mean images of day to day life, whether that is in the office, at work, in the gym, at a bar, parties etc that include disabled people.

We see a lot of images that seem to try and show people overcoming an impairment, of empty wheelchairs and people with their arms in the air and we want to just show day to day life!

I am really interested to know what you think about the images we currently see and what you would like to see.

If you can share your thoughts, that would be a real help!

Thanks and I look forward to chatting with you.


  • mossycow
    mossycow Member Posts: 485 Pioneering
    I believe I only really see heroes or villains... And not much in between, not much normality. 

    E. G. We see bond villains missing limbs or paralympians...

    I'd like to see more of people like me. Coming to terms with a new or different life. Having days where I'm glad to be alive and so lucky I live in 2018....and having days where medicine, appointments, wheelchairs etc let you down... 

    Would love more characters who aren't defined by their 'disibility'. E. G. Liz Carr in Silent witness is fantastic. 

  • Timm
    Timm Member Posts: 7 Connected
    Thanks @mossycow, that's just what we're aiming for.

    Not being defined by their 'disability' is important for us to convey through the images and videos,
  • mossycow
    mossycow Member Posts: 485 Pioneering
    However. There is an inherint problem with me 'seeing myself' in the media etc

    I can't do it. 
    Body too knackered, sore and weak. 

    I agree with the social model of disability, that we are disabled by society... But... Today.... I'm disabled by pain, weakness, exhaustion and my conditions. Not to be unconstructively negative but... Hmmmm just when these issues are raised this is what I wonder sometimes. 
  • Waylay
    Waylay Member Posts: 971 Pioneering
    One issue is that people with invisible disabilities are almost completely missing from media. I'm sure that's mostly because it's impossible to photograph or film an invisible disability.

    However, it contributes  enormously to the (very common) misperception that disabled people are in wheelchairs, on crutches, use a cane or have a seeing-eye dog. Those of us who aren't obviously disabled often aren't taken into account, or even believed when our disability comes up.

    Random idea: How about a photograph of a party, or a pub, or a bus (etc.) which shows someone with a visible disability and a couple of people with invisible disabilities? There could be small labels on these people saying "disabled". Perhaps a caption saying, "Disability is often invisible". I dunno. Sorry for rambling.
  • Ami2301
    Ami2301 Member, Community Co-Production Group Posts: 7,945 Disability Gamechanger
    I totally agree with you @Waylay!
    Disability Gamechanger - 2019
  • Timm
    Timm Member Posts: 7 Connected
    Great suggestion @Waylay, Mrs C has an invisible illness and often gets looks for using accessible facilities etc...
  • Waylay
    Waylay Member Posts: 971 Pioneering
    @Ami2301 Thanks!

    @Timm Yeah, I've been yelled at for sitting in disabled bus seats when having a back spasm a few times. It was horrible! Not helped by being on strong painkillers! I'm really anxious about taking buses now...
  • thespiceman
    thespiceman Member Posts: 6,389 Disability Gamechanger
    Hello @Timm   Thank you for your post. I am always trying to promote and make aware of the community we live.

    This is not often helped by media portrayals. In recent  films or drama.

    I would always like to see more representation in drama, film and TV. The images are always have a disfigurement or disability a villain or cast in a negative way.

    Although recent dramas and some films have been using disability or illness in a much more heart warming narrative to tell the story.

    Have a dream of a drama or even soap all the characters disabled, with illness. Have invisible impairments. No matter what the problems or issues are.

    Will it happen ?

    Using photographs to illustrate our community would easily send more positivity.

    One problem I regularly encounter is the misconception of disabled people their lives and ideals. The way they are. Could be useful to illustrate that.

    Had this last few years in certain charities . Issuing rules for those in involved in the charities roles and social events.  Given a form to fill in for media coverage and have photo taken.

    Need consent.  There seems no definite answer but in my own personal case. My photo was taken with out my permission. My family if I have any now plus any one who knew me then.

    Found out where I was through the charity working for causing trouble and problems they did.

    No need by the way. That is them.

    Also the other more concern members of our community. Being in a position to have there photo graph taken. Then issued as it was for me once all over the area I lived. .

    Understand got some reactions.  From Social Members. who were part of a group of people . I was part of.

    One aspect is the embarrassment of having  an image of yourself taken.  I know have no desire to see a photo of my self. Can and do identify the faults I have others can not see.

    We all want to recognise we have faults and cracks in our imagination.  To others we may be good looking and handsome.  Beautiful and attractive.  

    What does a photo or image means to those who can see past the disability or illness.  More important in my opinion.

    Hope that helps.

    Community Champion
    SCOPE Volunteer Award Engaging Communities 2019
    Mental Health advice, guidance and information to all members
    Nutrition, Diet, Wellbeing, Addiction.
  • axwy62
    axwy62 Member Posts: 140 Pioneering
    My son once designed a poster for a competition run by Mind - it showed 4 people, one of whom had a bluish tint over them with the caption '1 in 4 will suffer a mental health problem at some point in their life'. Perhaps you could expand that idea somehow - maybe a group of people in a normal day to day situation with no obvious disabilities with a caption asking which one has a disability. Maybe clicking on each person would reveal some sort of hidden disability?
  • Timm
    Timm Member Posts: 7 Connected
    @thespiceman some great ideas in there for us to consider, getting across the invisible illness is something I think we need to work on but also showing that disabled people have lives and go to work and to the pub and work out and all the other things in life is something we are keen to get out there.

    @axwy62 I love the poster idea with the bluish tint, it's very visual and simple but quite effective. We are wanting to create images that are like this and really simple to understand the concept without having to interact with the image so visual like your sons poster.
  • sophialob
    sophialob Member Posts: 61 Courageous
    Hi @Timm - I think your project sounds wonderful!

    I suffer from M.E. and similar to what the others have said above about 'invisible illnesses', I find it incredibly difficult that many people don't understand or believe I'm ill because I look physically 'fine'. There is already a lot of stigma around the illness from the medical community (along with Fibromyalgia) but it is a very real, debilitating illness that has taken over my life and so many others. I would love for there to be some representation for those of us with these invisible illnesses so that there can be a greater understanding from people that you don't necessarily need to have an obvious physical ailment to be incredibly sick. While I think the taboos about mental illness are being broken down slowly which is FANTASTIC and more people are accepting of these illnesses, there is still a lot of difficulty understanding M.E. I loved the 'millions missing' campaign by M.E. Action where they put thousands of peoples shoes across cities in the world to represent all those who are so sick they are invisible to society. Perhaps check this out and I wonder if it will spark any ideas! 
  • Timm
    Timm Member Posts: 7 Connected
    Hi @sophialob and thanks for the comment, I'll check out M>E> Action and see what they have done for sure. I'm sure you're aware that @Sam_Scope is my wife and has a stoma and from the outside looks fine but we totally understand the struggles of folks with invisible illness and issues have as we are often faced with the looks and comments. We are researching from lots of places and any links to campaigns etc are great.
  • sophialob
    sophialob Member Posts: 61 Courageous
    Hi @Timm. I'm new to the community so I had no idea but it's really lovely to know that I'm not alone and lots of people in this community can empathise! I really hope your project goes well and look forward to hearing about/seeing it :smile:
  • Graham_Scope
    Graham_Scope Scope Posts: 15 Courageous
    Hi @Timm
    Great to hear about your project! It's about time we countered the stock images of disabled people (see the amusing blog below by Carrie) and began to have some control over how we are represented. Do let me know if I can be of any support. 


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