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How occupational therapists could help brands end disability stigma

Friday 16th March 2018
Occupational therapists may be well-placed to help brands include more people with disabilities in their advertising campaigns in future. Image: Wavebreakmedia via iStock
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Occupational therapists could play an important role in working with brands to help them to bring more people with disabilities into their advertising campaigns.

According to research carried out by media agency UM, 66 per cent of individuals with physical disabilities often feel as though brands want to 'sweep their needs under the carpet', leaving them significantly underrepresented in their marketing.

Meanwhile, over half (52 per cent) of survey respondents said they believed physical disabilities were negatively stereotyped by many brands, which may be fuelling the stigma that remains around including these individuals in campaigns.

However, occupational therapists who work closely with disabled people on a regular basis could be ideally placed to work with brands to address these stigmas and change attitudes in a bid to lead towards disabilities being better represented in adverts in the future.

Some 63 per cent of those questioned reported that they would like disabilities to be given a higher profile to remove artificial divisions, but that they needed brands to be braver in order to do so.

Michael Brown, head of insight at UM, commented: "The disabled are perhaps the final frontier for UK advertising, the last remaining major consumer group in need of a more positive approach and less stereotyping.

"Some brands have begun to use those with physical disabilities in their ads, famously Maltesers, but there is clearly far more that could be done to build a more positive perception both of those people and of those with mental health conditions."

Indeed, almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of survey respondents said they believed mental disabilities to be most likely to be negatively stereotyped in the media, with this figure rising to 75 per cent among those with such conditions themselves.

Consequently, 72 per cent of individuals with mental disabilities also want to see people like themselves better represented in advertising campaigns.

Written by Alex Franklin Stortford

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