How do you see me?

Previously, the majority of disabled characters on television or movies were depicted using the medical model of disability. This means that the person with a disability was viewed as sick and needed to be cured in order to function and even be happy. Most of us have seen or heard of shows and movies where characters that are blind or use a wheelchair are miraculously cured, and they then live happily ever after. Although today we are seeing a rapid change to hep depict this community the way it is. Still there are some flaws.

Media images and stories influence thinking and establish social norms. People with disabilities have endured misrepresentation, defamation, and lack of representation in the media news and entertainment. This can be addressed easily.

Inspirational/Heroic Portrayal:
This seems to be the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Disabled characters are shown as extraordinary or heroic individuals because of their disability. Even the terminology used by media outlets like newspapers contributes to this idea. I often read stories describing disabled individuals “inspirational,” “brave” and “courageous.” The focus is often on the person’s impairment rather than the individual. The number of times Many stories about disabled people who are thought to be exceptional because they do simple things like graduate from college, play a musical instrument or go to work in spite of their disability is impressive! Although journalists are well meaning, the often exaggerated language gives the public the impression that as people with disabilities we should be praised and viewed as heroic for even daring to try so-called normal things.

Man in wheelchair with basketball is unrealistic photo and not a real person with a disaility

On the other hand, there is the heroic portrayal, where a disabled person has superpowers and overcomes a disability as a result. So often we do not see the person played as they really are just a person living their life.

Th man in this wheelchair is not disabled. He can never play basketball in that chair. He has no cushion and his push handles are too high

A photo says a 1000 words and to your market if you used this photo, you are telling me you have no idea who you are marketing too.


Now more than ever before, people with have disabilities are pushing for an accurate representation of themselves. Now more than ever Media is taking notice. There are people in fashion shows or on TV. The show “MasterChef” from Fox featured Christine Ha, a chef who has a severe visual impairment. Fashion Week featured models with all sorts of disabilities.

Many years ago the only organizations that were pushing this issue of inclusion were disability groups. Our CEO Madonna Long is here at an AAPD event with Betsey Johnson modeling her designs at the annual gala.

Real women in Wheelchairs modeling fashions

The photo of the woman below is unrealistic, she has no cushion in her seat. Most people who use wheelchairs have cushions. Her push handles are too high which means she cannot push her wheelchair successfully and last she is not pushing that wheelchair in any sand.

woman in wheelchair on beach unrealistic portrayal of persons in a wheelchair holding peace sign