In honor of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (on Tuesday, Dec 3), Calgary-based agency Wax launched the 'Visibility for Disability' initiative that seeks to increase the diversity shown on film, television, advertising, and marketing.
Currently, less than 3% of characters on Northan American television are shown with a disability, and of this small percentage, 95% are played by able-bodied actors. To change this narrative, the Visibility for Disability initiative calls on content creators to include a wider representation.
As part of this project, the organization created two commercials featuring people with disabilities to a focus group. The viewers were "uneasy,' "bewildered," and made statements such as "It just rubs me the wrong way.” After viewing messages from the actors with a disability calling for more representation, the focus group viewers began to understand the misconceptions surrounding disability and the need for more mainstream on-screen representation.
“Audiences are asking to see more diversity in our media. Despite being the largest minority group in the world, people with disabilities have been largely left out of this important cultural conversation,” said Mickey Greiner, Executive Director of the Calgary Society for Persons with Disabilities (CSPD), the organization spearheading the campaign.