Kris Halpin’s Adventures In Music, Technology & Disability.

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The Problem with (Stock) Photos of Disabled People.

This is the new depressing vortex of ableism I’ve fell into. Stock photos of disabled people.

Except these are not disabled people. They’re non-disabled actors, showing what it must be (must be!) to be one of them poor disabled people we keep hearing about.

I’ll skip the ludicrous “suffering” narrative, and cut straight to the issue of the wheelchairs.

  • That’s not how self powered wheelchair users people actually sit. That’s really uncomfortable. You’ve just plonked your arse in a chair, like you’re waiting for the dentist.
  • The chairs! I don’t know ANYONE who uses those kind of chairs because *drum roll* they are not suitable for permanent use. These are the £200 chairs they lend out at hospitals and supermarkets. Nobody could use these full time. For reference, here’s a (stock) photo of my new wheelchair:
  • And here’s the typical stock photo wheelchair:
  • Just, no. Tragically there must be people who spend all day in one of these kind of chairs, but this is not a safe/comfortable full time chair.
  • I feel for the ad agencies, though. It must be so hard to find real disabled people who are willing to be represented and do an honest day’s work. ESPECIALLY young disabled people. I mean, where are they? I’m sure the ad agencies have tried hard, but hiring a non-disabled actor and buying a cheap wheelchair was obviously a last resort. No other explanation. The media wouldn’t ignore an entire group of people, would they?
  • Here’s some of my “favourites” – I’m *really* disappointed to report that some of these I found on disability focused websites/orgs. If they can’t get it right, where do we start with mainstream media?
  • Got any other ludicrous images of disability that annoy you? Tweet me @krishalpin – I can’t promise my head won’t explode though…
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