Mariana Cabral - Adobe
By Mariana Cabral, Adobe Stock Latin America leader

The fight for diversity and inclusion has had an advance that we cannot underestimate in Latin America, every step counts. However, to accelerate changes it is important to encompass other areas and singularities within diversity that go beyond gender; among them, promoting projects that transform the way the world views disability. After all, globally one in 8 adults lives with a disability - this is more than 1.000 billion people - whether it is hearing, physical, visual, intellectual or psychosocial.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, people with disabilities represent around 13% of the population, according to IDB figures, and a part of this population also contributes to the labor quota; but they all need society to be more participatory in their inclusion. According to Adobe, one way to do this is through being well represented in the visual content around us.

The media and images we see around us every day often reduce or ignore the experiences of people with disabilities to one-dimensional stereotypes. completely. Changing this requires talking about what content can be harmful and why, as well as what great, engaging and powerful content looks like. Much of this work comes from education: when people don't know what is best, they cannot improve it.

There are many harmful stereotypes in the way disabled people are portrayed. The classic of the 'inspiring story' in which a disabled person is framed focusing on overcoming their disability over anything else. This angle seems to send the message of "If they can do it, you can too", it really comes down to trying to make people without disabilities feel better about their lives and struggles.

Then there is the stereotype of 'Super Hero', that allows disabled people to exist only when their experience is offset by superpowers. While many disabled people can be inspired by characters like Professor X and Daredevil, there is danger, again, in framing disability only as something outmatched by fantastic powers. What about disabled people in everyday stories that reflect the real world?

The stereotype that frames them as weak and in need of assistance also predominates, instead of showing your independence and your active participation in the activities of your community.

These types of stereotypes are not always harmful per se, But when they are the only means of communication that exist about disability, that limits our understanding and vision of the real life of the disabled. When we speak of making an 'authentic representation' we mean to give visibility to completely disabled people as human beings in real environments with rich, complicated and valuable lives.

Image: PxFuel.

In both the business world and the media landscape, disabled people cannot simply be part of the end game. The path to a genuine, impactful and transformative change begins with the participation of people with disabilities as decision makers, employees of a company, entrepreneurs, etc.

Adobe Stock, The Adobe image bank has identified as key that it is the content creators with disabilities themselves who generate the images that truly represent the different singularities of this form of diversity. 

The company has found that when people with disabilities are hired to participate in editorial meetings, strategy meetings and production, they bring not only their skills and experience, but also their personal experiences. Knowing the line between a media campaign that feels nuanced rather than patronizing is not something that people without disabilities are in the best position to know, but it is what all disabled people can speak of from experience.

Empower disabled creators

Opportunities like the Adobe Stock Artist Development Fund and the Adobe Creative Residency offer ways for disabled artists to gain support in creating and taking their work out into the world.

Hiring people with disabilities for media campaigns as inclusion consultants, on your internal teams, leads to a richer, more powerful and long-lasting product. This is something to keep in mind when taking stock photos, designing ad campaigns, and more.

Although it will not happen overnight, the message is clear: integrating people with disabilities in the development of visual content is essential to begin to better represent this part of the population and continue to move towards a more diverse and inclusive world .

Also read on Impacto TIC: There can be no smart cities or territories without ICT inclusion.

Main Image: Piqsels.