Disability Imagery: A Bastion of Social Change

Faith Perez
Renee Stronach
Class of DIS 450 Disability: Population-Environment Diversity

Faculty Mentors: Liz DePoy and Stephen Gilson

Abstract/ Summary

In the visual and material culture of the 21st century, image is power. This inquiry used thematic analysis to examine the meanings of disability imagery on a continuum from tragedy to an inevitable and celebrated part of human diversity and provocateur of social change. Five themes emerged: disability as tragic (exclusion, isolation, fear); disability as inspiration porn (disabled people are brave or special just for living); close but not quite (some positive imagery segregation and impairment are foregrounded); and celebration of disability as human diversity (the goal for change).