Disabled people are almost non-existent on government and stock-photos websites, and when they are represented, they are not represented as whole individuals, but are only showed for their disability. We crawled the internet and looked at

more than 500 government websites from around the globe and what we found was shocking! While around 50% do show physically disabled people in images, only less than 4% have them on non-health and wellness related pages. Governments aren’t the only ones at fault here. Stock photo websites, like Shutterstock, do not tag disabled people as actual people, but only for their disability.

We call on governmental and stock photos websites to include disabled people and start treating as whole individuals, with varied lives and interests, and no to focus only on their disability.

Disability is far from the taboo it was in previous centuries. Today, this valued section of society is afforded the same rights and concern as those who are physically able. However, when it comes to representation, the disabled community is still severely overlooked, and more often than not, all that is focused on is their disability. While they are “valued,” by focusing only on their disability, we hinder their full integration into society. Nowhere is this more prevalent than online; even on government websites – organizations responsible for ensuring equality – there is a significant lack of disabled people.

To explore this phenomenon, we researched over 500 government websites from all corners of the map. Our investigation unveiled that a majority of the websites tested had no photos of the disabled at all within its online pages. In many countries, this means that disabled citizens remain completely unacknowledged by their governing state. These people, who contribute to society and should enjoy the same human rights, deserve to be better represented. In a world that strives for equality, the disabled still suffer from a systemic prejudice that remains overlooked by most – which brings us on to a more worrying figure:

Less than 4% Showed Disabled People on Non-Medical Pages.  Furthering our investigation, we also broke down where on the website disabled people appeared. Unfortunately, for the majority of the examples, they existed on health and medical pages, which once again pigeonholes the disabled and shuns them from complete social acceptance. The discovery that less than 4% of the pictures existed on non-medical pages was shocking in some ways, but you just have to browse a few sites to be faced with the reality of the situation.

In other words, as far as government websites are concerned, disabled people exist only to further push medical conditions and concerns.

Out of the 502 websites we explored, only a mere 24 showed photos of disabled people on non-medical pages. However, even these instances came with some notable issues. None of those found were on the website homepage. In fact, most existed in blog posts discussing a specific organization or person. For example, some Brazilian websites did include articles about the Paralympics. However, aside from pages about the Paralympics, there were no mentions or images of disabled individuals on the website. Even this shows the tendency to shun people with a disability by separating them into a different echelon of society.

The Global Spread of This Exclusion Crisis.  Glancing at these figures, you may assume it’s countries with lower economic status and reduced human rights that are guilty of this online prejudice against the disabled. However, the spread of the results tells a different story. No pattern exists that determines why the representation of the disabled is globally so low.

Those who do boast some inclusion include: Superpowers such as Russia and the USA. South American countries: Chile, Brazil, and Argentina Japan, Myanmar, India, Malaysia, and Hong Kong in Asia Canada and Australia.

However, as we explored numerous government departments for each place, it’s also important to note that no country showed ubiquitous inclusion. Though the US fared well on some sites, an alarming amount of official state websites included no photos of disabled citizens at all. The following were all guilty of marginalization: Texas, Alabama, Virginia, Michigan, Utah and many more. Other offenders included the Whitehouse website, plus Australia’s ‘my.gov’ domain and business website.

 

Perhaps more worryingly, numerous countries failed to provide any representation on their official government site – including Taiwan, Slovakia, and even France. Considering some of these examples are members of the EU, this oversight is indefensible.