It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words and to be honest presently I really bloody hope this isn’t true! Why? Google images of disabled people and have a peek. What you will see is lots of disabled people playing sport, people in wheelchairs on mountain tops or beaches with their arms outstretched gazing into the sunset and the odd person looking sad and forlorn. Ok, there is the odd picture that doesn’t look like this but you get the gist right?

Now don’t get me wrong there’s nothing wrong with being a disabled sports person, in fact fair play to all you disabled people who play sport but let’s be real here, we don’t all play sport so why is it that so many of the images are sports focused? It plays into the misconception that disabled people tend to be parlympians.   Then there’s the inspirational sunset pic, really?!

On a side note, why are the majority of the images of wheelchair users? In case you didn’t know less than 8% of disabled people use wheelchairs yet if you ask someone to think about disability quite often wheelchairs are the first things that spring to mind.

I know I am ranting a little but it really bothers me what you don’t see. You don’t see disabled people going about their everyday lives just like everyone else. Someone out for a meal, down the pub, drinking cocktails, shopping in cool places or shock horror at work. I have a sneeky suspician that the few corporaty pictures that did come up weren’t even of a disabled person, just a model in a wheelchair (if the person was disabled then they seriously need to look at getting a wheelchair that is suitable for them). Why does it matter I hear you ask. It matters because these pictures are purpetuating unhelpful stereotypes of disability. Many disabled people live a full and active life just all those ‘not yet disabled’ as we like to call non disabled people at Enhance the UK.

And that’s why I was so proud to take part in a photo shoot for Enhance the recently. Ask anyone who knows me I HATE my photo taken (unless it’s a selfie and I don’t have to smile) so offering to take part is a big deal for me. The photo shoot took place in Brick Lane and was everything that the aforementioned photos aren’t. The photographer basically spent the day with us while we had a laugh together, doing all the normal things that we like to do; having lunch, grabbing a coffee, clothes shopping, and in the pub. You get the gist. Yes there were some posey pictures but trust me you won’t find an arms open gazing into the sunset picture.

If a picture is worth a thousand words lets change the perception of disability one photo at a time. And look out for the pics. We’ll be releasing them soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About The Author

Claire has worked with Deaf children for a number of years, initially as an Educational Communicator and then as a teacher. She recently moved into working in the community to support Deaf adults as a Community Support Worker. She is chairperson of Bedfordshire Deaf Children’s Society and secretary for Luton Deaf Football Club. She has also provided Deaf Awareness training to various organisations. Claire has her level 2 British Sign Language Certificate although she has been signing from a young age as she is deaf herself. Initially Claire was a hearing aid user but after losing her residual hearing several years ago she has had a Cochlear Implant. Claire is often accompanied to work by her hearing dog Ivy.

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