Every year around this time, TVs, newspapers, and magazines are flooded with back-to-school ads; each brand trying to get you to purchase their school supplies or back to school fashions. If you’re able-bodied, you may not think anything of the ads that generally feature able-bodied children. But for parents of children with disabilities, the ads typically neglect to acknowledge their child is going back to school, too. It was so clear to one mother that she decided to do something about it.
Katie Driscoll is a professional photographer and mother to Grace who was born with Down syndrome. “Unfortunately in general back-to-school advertising there’s not a high visibility [of children with disabilities],” she told ABC. Katie feels the inadequate representation of children with disabilities in the media can contribute to problems with confidence and self-assurance that people with disabilities already struggle with day-to-day.
About a year ago Katie decided to put together a back to school photo shoot featuring Grace and other children with disabilities, with help from her non-profit Changing the Face of Beauty. A year later, the photo shoot has expanded to include the efforts of more than 100 companies pledging to incorporate children with disabilities in their back-to-school ad campaigns this year.
Katie feels that in the past the companies didn’t purposefully neglect to include children with disabilities, and she’s happy they’re doing something now to change that. “They wanted consumers to know that they value every child,” she told ABC. “They value them as a consumer. They value the message that all kids are important.”
The campaign has even created its own hashtag of #ImGoingBackToSchoolToo. If you type it in to Instagram or Twitter, you’ll see plenty of photos of children with disabilities adorably outfitted with their backpacks and school supplies, ready to take on the new school year.
Katie hopes that one day all people with disabilities will be more included in the media, and she will no longer need to bring awareness to these kinds of issues.