Every picture tells a story, just make sure it tells it the right way

November 27, 2011 at 11:12 am 3 comments

I’m unsure as to where this was orignally posted, so its purposes is unclear.  Either way the image is powerful enough to prevoke an reaction.  My question is whether it produces the ‘right’ response, or whether it causes harm to the public image of those with CP,  and other disabilities.

As someone who has Cerebral Palsy I understand the difficulties it causes, and that way it affects people varies widely. Some people will need high level support throughout their lives.  Provision of that type costs, and fundraising is essential.  Given that needs are diverse, the support neded varies too, providing flexible services costs too.  My view is that both the sympathy and shock value of the image would raise vital funds.

People with CP are real people, with real lives, many work, study, live alone, and take a full part in their local communities. Participation in these activities is not necessarily reflected in the level of disability.  The baby   in the picture looks very unwell, and as he or she  grows may turn out to have  any level of disability, mild to severe.    ‘CP baby’ might make any of thousands of lifestyle choices, marriage, children, extreme sports, fame and fortune., who knows? In terms of jobs we could be looking at a roadsweeper, or the Prime Minister,  or something in between.  Despite what that picture is likely to make people think, we just don’t know what the future holds for thst baby, anymore than  we do for any other child,  Babies born healthy,  and seemingly with the world at their feet, may not end up lucky in ‘life’s lottery’.

The only sure thing is that  this baby like every other disabled child will grow up in the real world along with its non-disabled peers.   This baby will face all the challenges of  its generation, and in addition will have to manage any disability issues he or she has.  True disabled children born today have more rights and equality of  opportunity than previous generations, but not lets pretend their path is easy.  Practical skills can be learned,  or managed, that  to an extent is the easy bit, dealing with the   the socially imposed expections of , and attitudes towards disability is a harder lesson to learn.  The can’t, shouldn’t, mustn’t way of thinking, can frustrate every effort disabled people make to lead an ordinary..

The picturre,whilst powerful, in my  opinion does little to improve  the publici mage of disabled people, and probably much to damage it. It has the sympathy factor, and whilst in context that  may be useful, it is very unhelpful to people striving to live real lives.  Clearly disabled  adults, and growing children have moved on from the cute baby stage, however the public remember the weak baby image,and still apply that to our lives, and the way they see us. We will, to a large extent be seen as weak, in need of protection, and unable to make our own decisions. Disability is not cute, and frankly for the majority is hard work.  I’m not ‘just’ a disabled woman, I am a woman living  alone, managing issues that go beyond  my disability,and fighting for the lifestyle I want,  along with many others, of  either gender, whether disabled or not.  Funny then that by many, not  me, I am seen as ‘disabled’, and little else, a trait I share with other disabled people regardless of whatever else life chucks our way.  We don’t need the ahh factor, we need an image that reflects who we are, real people, with a real life and an equal aplace in society.  Unless our public image, and the effect it has, is taken seriously, then disabled people’s rights will never be taken seriously.


Picture courtesy of Lisa Dennis, original source unknown.

Scope provides information, and support services for people with Cerebral Palsy.  It also runs or supportsa number of campaigns supporting the rights of the wider disabled community.

Entry filed under: News stories & hot topics. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

Call to stop Disability cuts and carry out a review To crip or not to crip

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Stacey Riley  |  November 27, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Thanks for passing this on. I have CP myself and I agree with you on every point. I’m sick of being seen as vulnerable because I need assistance in my daily life.

    I feel that ‘The System’ makes me more vulnerable than my disability does!

    • 2. debondisability  |  November 27, 2011 at 3:41 pm

      Thanks Stacey you probably know me better as Crimsoncrip

      • 3. Stacey Riley  |  November 27, 2011 at 3:53 pm

        You’re welcome. In that case I will follow you on Twitter.

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