A Matter of Perspective
When sending the right message goes wrong.
By Kimberley Barreda
Understanding perspective is critical when crafting a message intended to reach disabled consumers and allies.
What seems to be a great story, concept or image to a non-disabled person is often seen completely differently when viewed from the disabled community. Avoiding these costly missteps is very easy once you know what to look for and what to use instead.
From a non-disabled perspective, these images could be interchangeable.
On the surface, these two images are virtually identical. They both feature a single disabled person sitting in a wheelchair, outdoors, with outstretched arms, gazing at water. They're exactly the same price, have the same licensing features and are in the same collection and search results.
From a non-disabled perspective, they could be interchangeable. They're not. There are subtle but critical differences between them, and understanding what they are can help you avoid having your message misconstrued, or worse, ignored altogether.
Note the subtle but important differences.
The image of the man on the pier is appealing and relatable to a disabled audience. The location is accessible, reachable independently, you can easily see how he got there, without help, he's using a current, modern wheelchair that fits him and the body language is expansive and grand. It's a strong, empowering photo.
The image of the woman on the beach is not relatable to a disabled audience. The "victory over disability" symbolism is a feel good image that speaks to non-disabled people, which is fine if that's your target, but if disabled consumers are your market, this type of portrayal likely won't be successful.