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Monday, May 24, 1999 Published at 09:18 GMT 10:18 UK


Campaign to get disabled in adverts

The campaign wants to make the disabled more visible

Employers, advertisers and disability groups are launching a campaign to get more disabled people into mainstream adverts.

The VisABLE campaign is launched on Monday and includes disability charity Leonard Cheshire, the Co-operative Bank, the Employers' Forum on Disability, disabled models and representatives from the advertising and media world.

The organisations say research shows the majority of the public would welcome more disabled people in adverts.

Jeremy Hughes, director of public affairs at Leonard Cheshire, said: "We're not asking companies to do this out of the kindness of their hearts.

"The research shows there are hard-headed business reasons for adverts to reflect more realistically the communities we live in, reflecting the experience of businesses in the USA.

"Customers respond more positively to adverts if disabled people are featured."


An NOP poll of 1,000 people found that 80% would welcome more disabled people in advertising.

Just 10% said having disabled people in adverts would put them off and 70% said they would not assume adverts with disabled people excluded able-bodied people.

The campaign says an American chain of stores - Target stores - found that its decision to include disabled people in advertising boosted sales and was well received by the public.

VisABLE says several companies are backing its campaign and it is seeking to get others to commit themselves to it.

Several companies, including Nike, Sony, BT and Coca Cola, have already used disabled people in their advertising.

The National Disability Council (NDC), the government's advisory body on disability issues, is also supporting the campaign.

David Grayson, chair of the NDC, said: "This is a call to all companies to recognise the business potential of including disabled people in their marketing.

"And, of course, VisABLE ties in with our aim of a more inclusive society."

Not tokenism

The Co-operative Bank says it has been at the forefront of promoting use of disabled people in advertising.

It worked with the National Disability Council on the See the Person Not the Disability campaign in 1997 and is beginning a new advertising campaign in July which features disabled people.

A spokesman said: "It is not tokenism, but a desire to show that disabled people are a genuine part of our society."

He added that it had taken time to get companies to include ethnic minorities in adverts, but this had now become commonplace.

He hoped this would happen with the disabled.

"If you want to show a cross-section of society, then disabled people have to be there," he said.

"They should not be put on one side as if they do not exist."

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