The Power of Representation: Choosing Suitable Disabilities Pictures

The Power of Representation: Choosing Suitable Disabilities Pictures

disabilities picture

One of the largest groups in the world, people with disabilities, account for 18% of Australia’s population and 24% of New Zealand’s. Although almost a fifth of the population in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) live with some form of disability, people living with disabilities aren’t often well represented or visible within general media or digital marketing. 

It’s an indication that as an industry, or society, we’re missing out on a big part of our society and their story. So let’s change that!

Why find the right disability pictures?

Research by Visual GPS Research found for Australia and New Zealand, if a company can demonstrate its commitment to diversity and inclusion by consistently including authentic and accurate representations of people, lifestyles and cultures in its advertising and communications, people look more favourably on that company. 

To be specific, 79% of Australia & New Zealand consumers want brands to capture true lifestyles and cultures – not ‘sort ofs’ and ‘a little bit likes’.

The bottom line is, that people are now more attuned than ever to the importance of diversity and representation in marketing. Organisations and marketers need to meet that expectation by preparing marketing assets i.e. websites, social media posts and more that suitably represent their target audiences, or a society as a whole.

So how do you find suitable Disabilities Pictures?

Finding suitable disabilities pictures can be challenging, but there are more resources than ever before. 

Firstly, we wouldn’t recommend going to the ‘stock standard’ sources of images such as iStock and Adobe Stock. These are great for general images but not for specialist images such as images of people with disabilities from Australia. 

Some sources of disability images we do like include:

  • – this platform is dedicated to showcasing the vibrant lives of over one billion individuals with disabilities worldwide, who collectively wield significant economic influence within the travel and lifestyle sectors.
    It includes positive representations of individuals with disabilities – including those who utilise mobility aids such as wheelchairs, canes, walkers, and guide dogs and more.
  • – In 2020, as a step forward in creating an inclusive society, stock image company Getty Images created a ‘Disability Collection’ by launching more than 1,000 diverse and real images. Today it features 38,739 Australia Disability Stock Photos and High-res Pictures. They pride themselves on identifying cultural shifts, spearheading trends and powering the creative economy, by fueling visual storytelling worldwide.
  • Disability Is Beautiful – provides an exhaustive library of art provided by the disability community. Your usage of this art celebrates the beauty in disability and fights the stigma and negative narratives that exist. Photo subjects are Families, Down Syndrome, Ideas & Concepts, Faith & Religion, Fun, and Fitness.
  • Disability:IN – is the leading nonprofit resource for business disability inclusion worldwide. Their network of over 500 corporations expands opportunities for people with disabilities across enterprises. They offer a lot of resources that you can filter by category.
  • Disabled And Here Collection – The Disabled And Here collection is published under Creative Commons attribution licensing, which means you can use, share, and adapt the images for free with appropriate credit. This disability-led effort to provide free & inclusive stock images has photos and illustrations celebrating disabled Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC).  It has a wide range of stock images of the Community, LGBTQ+, Life, Nature and Social Justice.
  • Changing Places: Offer a range of images that are specifically designed to represent people with disabilities in a positive and realistic light. 
  • Know of others? We’d love to hear from you!

Important Considerations When Selecting Disabilities Pictures…

When selecting images for your website, marketing materials, or social media posts, it’s essential to consider the impact they will have. 

For those in the disability sector, using images that accurately represent the individuals you serve is crucial. This means choosing images that reflect the diversity of the Australian population, including people of different ages, backgrounds, and abilities.

When choosing visuals of people with disabilities from these sources or others we also encourage you to ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you representing people by more than their disability?
  • Are you portraying disability as a natural part of someone’s identity, instead of disability as something that needs to be ‘cured’, ‘fixed’ or overcome?
  • Are you showing the whole range of life experiences and relationships that a person with disabilities may have?
  • Are you featuring people with cognitive or invisible disabilities?
  • Are you showing a multidimensional experience of who they are?
  • Are you showing a whole person rather than only a prosthetic limb or other accommodation?

Picking the right image and strongly considering these things is hugely important as images play a crucial role in shaping perceptions and conveying messages. 

Images need to not only reflect the diversity of the community but also have the power to influence how individuals with disabilities are perceived and treated.

Representing Australians

When choosing images for the disability sector in Australia, it’s also important to select visuals that accurately reflect the demographics and location of the community you serve. 

This includes depicting individuals of the right age. For instance, given that NDIS services cease at age 65 and this becomes aged care, showing images of people over 65 years old on your NDIS organisation’s website is likely not a good idea. 

Similarly, given the NDIS is only available to people over seven years old, it’s not a great idea to show images of younger children.

Likewise, location is important. For example, if your organisation supports children with disabilities in Melbourne, your images should feature children of various ages and abilities who

Visible and Invisible Disabilities

It’s also important when selecting disabilities pictures or images for your marketing to NDIS audiences to consider that not all disabilities are visible. 

While some images may show individuals with visible disabilities, such as Down syndrome, mobility aids or facial differences, others should not. 

This is because many disabilities, such as chronic pain, autism, mental health conditions, and learning disabilities, are not always visible. 

When choosing images, it’s important to strike a balance that accurately represents the diversity of disabilities while avoiding stereotypes.

Include Carers & Support Workers in your Disbilities Pictures where possible

In many cases, showing images of carers or support workers interacting with individuals with disabilities will be more powerful than an image of a person with a disability alone. 

After all, you are trying to convey the services and assistance you can provide. Therefore when selecting images for your marketing materials if you are an NDIS provider, consider including visuals that show a carer assisting with a daily activity, such as cooking, shopping, or participating in a community event. 

This helps to illustrate the important role that your team play in supporting individuals with disabilities and promotes a more inclusive representation.

Conclusion on Choosing Suitable Free Disabilities Pictures and the Power of Representation

In conclusion, choosing suitable images is essential for those working in the disability sector, NDIS providers, and not-for-profits in Australia. 

By selecting images that accurately represent the individuals you serve, you can help promote a more inclusive and positive portrayal of disability in our society.

As the CEO of Disability:IN says on their website “The greatest resource we have is our people and our culture starts inside by cultivating a diverse range of perspectives. We pull together around accessible belonging and work collectively to improve equity and inclusion for all.”

If you would like to work with a company who understand the NDIS space and Not for Profits, check out these pages for more.