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Disability Visibility: Promoting Inclusion in Marketing

Two women sitting at desk and one is a a wheelchair and they are using the computer

41.1 million individuals in America identify as having a disability according to the latest census. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate indivduals with disabilities actually make up 26% of the US population since not all individuals disclose their disability status.

With this group being over a quarter of our population, there is huge lack of representation in advertisements (ads), television, media, etc. A recent survey from the Nielsen Group (2021) found that only 1% of ads featured disability representation in the form of visuals, topics, or themes. They surveyed roughly 450,000 primetime tv ads and found that only 6,000 showed disability representation with more than half of those being in the health and personal care category.

This statistic shows the misrepresents of our society in media. Without proper representation, the World Institute of Disabilities notes that this promotes a false narrative that individuals with a disability are lazy, helpless, or have an unhealthy lifestyle. When individuals with disabilities are represented, their voices are heard, accessibility issues are addressed, and our largest minority population is represented. Entertainment falls short when the entire audience cannot enjoy an advertisement or film due accessibility issues.

Companies need to address accessibility not only within the workplace but also in their advertising, marketing, production, etc. The majority of ads neglect to include accessibility features for example alternative text for those who are blind, auditory cues for those who are deaf, and ensuring text color and backgrounds have contrast for those who are colorblind. Incorporating accessibility features in your marketing plan allows the entire audience to enjoy. Visibility is a key component to inclusion. Including individuals with disbailities in your marketing plan and hiring them in your workplace eliminates potential biases and invite new perscoectives. 

Promoting inclusion has a long-lasting effect on not only your company but also your consumers.