Recently I shared an article about a print ad from Target for kids clothing that a number of children pictured, one of which was a child with Down syndrome. The great thing about the ad was that Target didn’t come out and give themselves praise for including a person with a disability in their advertisement, they didn’t hold a press conference or make an announcement. They just did it. The article that I saw was titled “Target is ‘Down’ with Down Syndrome: 5 Things Target Said by Saying Nothing At All.”
I’m glad they chose to include a person with a disability and not feel the need to have to rationalize it. The fact that we notice and applaud them shows that we have a long way to go for full inclusion. It shouldn’t have to be highlighted when a child with Down syndrome is in an ad, it shouldn’t a special media event if a wheelchair user or a blind person is featured in a campaign.
Apple had another great inclusion moment when they featured a blind user using the new iPhone 4S’ accessibility feature in the first commercial for the device. At the end a woman is shown reading a book in Braille and using Siri to read and send a text message to a friend. It was a great moment because it showed a person, who happened to be blind, casually reading and interacting with a friend via text. This seemingly simple act of showing the versatility of Siri and the iPhone among different users caused a ripple of notice and praise for the advertising and technology practices of Apple.
Hopefully, one day we’ll get to a point in our society were it will be common place to see people with disabilities in commercials, TV and print ads and it won’t have to be pointed out. I’m just glad I haven’t seen any articles about how “inspiring” it is to see someone with a disability in advertising media.
My view of inclusion has changed a lot since I started working at disABILITY LINK (the Center for Independent Living serving Atlanta). I’ve been using a white cane for years now and I’ve noticed, that when watching TV or movies, I’m curious as to why I don’t see more representation of blind people, or people in wheelchairs or people with hearing impairments.
I work with people with disabilities on a daily basis and I expect to see my peers in entertainment media and rarely do. Inclusion shouldn’t be an initiative, program or effort, it should just happen. If it just happened we wouldn’t even need a word to point out that everyone is included equally.
What are your thoughts?