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UM study highlights lack of disabled visibility in advertising

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Creative media agency UM has announced the results of a study which looked at the visibility of people with disabilities in advertising. The study, which questioned 2,000 British people, found that people with mental disabilities were subjected to the most severe stigma.

64% of the people questioned agreed that people with mental disabilities were the most likely to be subjected to negative discrimination by those around them, while 75% of those who had experienced mental disabilities agreed. 66% of those surveyed who had physical disabilities themselves said they felt ignored, and that society tries to “sweep them under the rug”.

54% of those surveyed wanted to see greater visibility of people with physical disabilities in advertising, with 63% stating that doing so would help to irradiate social stigma around disability. 62% were interested in seeing more physically disabled people in advertising and 52% wanted to see more people with mental disabilities.

55% of the 2,000 people questioned put the lack of disabled people in advertising down to the fact that it made made people “uncomfortable”. Bizarrely, 34% held the opinion that those with physical disabilities are “not attractive”.

Michael Brown, head of insight at UM, noted that, “The disabled are perhaps the final frontier for UK advertising, the last remaining major consumer group in need of a more positive approach and less stereotyping.

“Some brands have begun to use those with physical disabilities in their ads, famously Maltesers, but there is clearly far more that could be done to build a more positive perception both of those people and of those with mental health conditions.”