Are you continually disappointed by images of people with disabilities in the media? Tired of seeing inauthentic depictions of wheelchair users or photos that reinforce outdated and inaccurate stereotypes?

United Spinal Association is excited to be a part of a new effort to address that problem and improve the representation of people with disabilities in the media. On May 17, United Spinal joined 16 other member organizations of the National Disability Leadership Alliance alongside Oath and Getty Images to launch The Disability Collection, a repository of images that break stereotypes and more authentically portray disability. View the initiative online at www.thedisabilitycollection.com.

The Disability Collection, a repository of images that break stereotypes and more authentically portray disability“One of the hardest things we face, day in and day out, is discovering authentic images to run alongside our stories and on the web,” says Ian Ruder, editor of NEW MOBILITY and United Spinal’s point person for The Disability Connection. “There is an obvious need to cultivate better images and make them more accessible, and The Disability Connection has the potential to do just that.”

While some 15-20 percent of the world’s population have a disability, Getty found that only 2 percent of stock photographs depicted disability. At the same time, its own data showed a huge spike in disability-related searches, with terms like “wheelchair access” and “disabled worker” jumping 357 percent and 254 percent respectively on GettyImages.com between 2016 and 2017.

The project invites photographers to portray disability as a natural part of someone’s identity, instead of something that needs to be “cured,” “fixed,” or “overcome.” Furthermore, guidelines are provided to ensure effective and appropriate communication onsite and on set, including avoiding using nondisabled models pretending to be people with disabilities and highlighting a whole person instead of only the disability. Since the launch, both established and aspiring photographers have uploaded photos that can be viewed online via the Getty website at bit.ly/2JmoyOB. Once submitted, entries are screened to ensure they meet the guidelines established by Oath, Getty Images and NDLA members. Selected photos will then become permanent fixtures of the Getty stock image collection. To sign up or find out more about the project visit oath.com/accessibility/getty-collection.