Media images and stories play a big role in our everyday life, shape our worldview, deeply influence public opinion and reinforce social norms. People with disabilities are rarely represented in the media and, when they are portrayed, they are often stereotyped. On one hand they are pictured as objects of pity, charity or medical care who have had to overcome a tragic and disabling condition. On the other hand, they may be depicted as incredibly talented and strong-willed superheroes who have accomplished great feats and should serve to inspire non-disabled people to go beyond their limits.
The media can be a key tool to raise awareness, fight stigma and combat misinformation. It has the potential to become a powerful force to change society’s categorising ideas and present people with disabilities as individuals who are an integral part of human diversity. By increasing awareness and understanding of disability issues and the diversity of people with disabilities and their situations, the media can actively contribute to effective integration.
This change can start with how companies, also in the field of hospitality, manage their digital content and how they address the representation of human diversity.
How do we talk about inclusion? How can people with disabilities feel welcomed?
To feel included, people need to see themselves reflected in the images, videos and stories they encounter. Making sure to include the images and stories of people with disabilities helps them feel seen. Make sure that your representations are positive, diverse, avoid offensive language and avoid using people with disabilities as inspiration for others.