The Disability Collection, a collection of images that aim to depict authentic and diverse representations of people with disabilities in the media, launches as part of Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

The collection is a partnership between Oath—a subsidiary of Verizon, the National Disability Leadership Alliance (NDLA)—a cross-disability coalition led by 17 national organizations headed by people with disabilities, and Getty Images.

To expand and grow the Collection, Oath, the NDLA and Getty Images developed a comprehensive set of guidelines for how to authentically reflect people with disabilities in photography, which will be shared and promoted across Getty Images’ global network of photographers, according to a media release.

“People with disabilities have historically been underrepresented, and often misrepresented in the media,” says Mike Shebanek, head of accessibility at Oath. “We believe the media has the power to shut down stereotypes, and we are calling on the industry to commit to more inclusive representation. Together we can create this long overdue change.”

Many of the images of disability that are traditionally used in the media reflect only the “heroic” or the “pitiful” — stereotypes of disability — when, disability is much more diverse. The Disability Collection will repicture disability in a way that is dignified, modern, diverse, authentic and human.

The project invites photographers to portray disability as a natural part of someone’s identity, instead of portraying disability as something that needs to be “cured,” “fixed” or overcome. Disability is intersectional so the Collection will intentionally include representation across age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identification, socio-economic, religion and culture with a focus on traditionally underrepresented groups, the release explains.

“At a time when imagery is the most widely spoken global language, it has never been more important to produce and promote a visual language that is progressive and inclusive, and to support diverse voices in doing so,” states Rebecca Swift, director of visual insights at Getty Images.

“While we cannot change what people publish or click on overnight, we can provide better alternatives for those looking to create more authentic stories. The Disability Collection strives to be a collection of authentic and empowering images of people with disabilities in everyday life.”

“Member organizations of the National Disability Leadership Alliance—and the disability community in general—have worked for decades to see ourselves accurately reflected in media. Despite some progress, often the media still gets important details wrong,” notes James Weisman, NDLA Steering Committee, in the release. “This landmark initiative—the first of its kind developed with the guidance of the disability community itself—signals a promising new way forward.

[Source(s): Oath, NDLA, Getty Images, Business Wire]