HDI’s new project aims to enhance photography of people with disabilities

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Stock photography is a common tool used  by almost all businesses and organizations; however, stock photos featuring people with disabilities are often staged using models without disabilities, resulting in misrepresentation, unnatural scenes, and offensive images. 

For example, models using wheelchairs often only use manual and/or ill-fitting wheelchairs. Images showing American Sign Language often use nonexistent or nonsensical signs. 

A newly funded Fund for Excellence Project, the HDI Photo Library, aims to address this problem in the ever changing world of photography. 

This project will use three photographers to photograph people with disabilities in Central Kentucky. This will provide HDI and other organizations with accurate photographs of people with disabilities and will also provide a modeling opportunity for people with disabilities.

This proposal was written by Haley Potter who will serve as the Principal Investigator for this project. “This is a photography project on its surface, but accurately representing and appropriately compensating people with disabilities for their services are at the core,” Potter says. 

Three other HDI staff (Adam Potter, Eric Seale, and Kari Jones) will serve as on-site photographers throughout the project, completing at least five professional shoots.

“Inclusive communities do not stop at physical spaces. It includes online, virtual, and social spaces,” Potter says. “If our social media and online presence does not properly depict people with disabilities how they wish to be portrayed, we are not executing our mission.”

It is always a goal of HDI to provide people with lived experience opportunities to express themselves, showcase their talents, and build inclusive communities in all aspects of society.

For questions about the HDI Photo Library, contact Haley Potter at haley.potter@uky.edu