Skip to main content
Home » Inclusivity in the Workplace » Disability inclusion at work: why increasing visual portrayal of disabled people matters
Inclusivity & Wellbeing in the Workplace Q1 2024

Disability inclusion at work: why increasing visual portrayal of disabled people matters

Image provided by Business Disability Forum

Lara Davis

Head of Communications, Business Disability Forum

One in four people in the UK have a disability. However, too often, disabled people are either missing from the images we see in media or misrepresented.


To attract and retain diverse and disabled talent, employers need to make sure they represent disabled people and disability authentically within their employer brand — not just in recruitment information, but across the whole business; and not just in communications related to disability.

Disability at work is missing or misrepresented

Employers that communicate disability well include a diverse range of people with varying disabilities — including those that are less visible (around 80% of all disabilities) — in the images they choose or commission, and they avoid stereotypes.

Less than 1 in 10 disabled people in the UK use a wheelchair, for example. However, in recent research by Ipsos for Business Disability Forum, 26% of adults surveyed said that they were most likely to have seen images of wheelchairs and mobility scooters in content to represent disability.

A third said they had not seen any disability represented in content they had seen or read in the last six months. If people don’t see themselves, they won’t think your workplace, products or services are for them.

If people don’t see themselves, they won’t think
your workplace, products or services are for them.

Representation support for business

Business Disability Forum’s ‘Changing the image of disability’ campaign is calling on businesses and the media to increase and improve the representation of disabled people and disability in images.

The campaign provides free guidance on how to select, commission and use images in a disability-smart way, including the use of captions and alternative text to increase understanding of disability. Business Disability Forum has also created a collection of disability-smart images, which include disabled people in real-life workplace scenarios.

Creating a disability-inclusive culture 

Representing disability realistically is part of building an inclusive culture where disabled people feel welcomed, included and understood — and where they want to work. Have you been using the same set of images for some time? Why not get disabled colleagues involved in reviewing them? Images that include disabled people or disability don’t only belong beside copy about disability or inclusion.

Changing the image of disability isn’t just about doing the right thing; it’s about employers communicating better with all their employees and potential employees. Failure to provide recognition may result in employees and candidates seeking opportunities elsewhere where such recognition is present.

Next article