reports that despite sporadic appearances in the media and marketing campaigns, people with disabilities are still largely absent, and that many people feel that marketers in particular are losing out because of it. Blaming the absence of people with disabilities in marketing campaigns on “a combination of ignorance, caution, and fear,” advocates feel that a concentrated campaign to have people with disabilities included in advertising is necessary, similar to past campaigns to have minorities included in advertising.

57 000 000 Americans have a disability, and as a group their spending power is $200 to $500 billion. They’re definitely a group worth marketing to. However, advertising consultant Nadine Vogel says that the current approach to marketing to people with disabilities assumes that they don’t have the same interests as people without disabilities, or the same amount of money to spend.

Vogel, whose company, Springboard Consulting, specializes in helping other companies market to people with disabilities, urges her clients to move away from this mindset: “This is a market that spends money and you want their business. Nobody is going to be offended by that,” she told ABC. “People with disabilities and their families want to be seen as contributing members of society, just like anyone else.”

Florida business-owner Deborah Davis agrees. At PhotoAbility, her photo agency, her goal is to provide stock image images of people with disabilities doing everyday things that she hopes will be used in marketing campaigns for all products.

“Why not show inclusivity?” she told

Perhaps it’s because companies are concerned that seeing people with disabilities in their advertising could trigger specific fears in people without disabilities. Adweek staff writer Robert Klara told that while companies are definitely aware of the lack of people with disabilities in their advertising, many are unwilling to risk using actors that remind potential clients about fears of becoming older or disabled, or don’t want to risk looking like they’re exploiting people with disabilities for profit.

However, Lawrence Carter-Long of the National Disability Service told that members of the disability community tend to talk among themselves and their families and friends about companies that are inclusive. Companies are starting to recognize that a more inclusive stance and good customer service for people with disabilities pays off, he said.

Few are willing to change things, though, says a report by Fifth Quadrant Analytics. Out of 639 companies in the United States surveyed, “31% indicated an interest in the market of people with disabilities, but only 7% of those backed that up that interest with measurable efforts.”

Read article by Christina Ng here