A Sneak Peek Into How An Afrocentric Visual Project Is Setting The Pace For The True Representation Of People With Disabilities

by Duke Magazine

Chris was walking to school on a regular day when he felt the strength leave him. He felt weak at the moment and all of a sudden, his young vibrant high school life took a different turn.

Today, as a disability rights advocate and musician, having been diagnosed and living with Hereditary Motor Sensory Neuropathy, Chris is using his voice and his music to champion the cause of accessibility and inclusion for persons living with disability (PWDs). He was featured in the 2021 SoCreative Digital Summit Exhibition, which is a gathering of Africa’s creative minds and talents supported by the British Council, DICE, and Goethe Zentrum and implemented this year by Stimulus Africa in Harare, Zimbabwe.

There are many stories and many more people like Chris that are untold, unseen, and unknown. In today’s world, 15% of the world’s population lives with some form of disability.

That, in context, is about 1,185,000,000 people facing tremendous challenges as a result of living with some form of disability- a lot of which are no fault of theirs. Yet the portrayal of people with disabilities in society, in media and marketing, has been limiting, stereotypical, and most often than not, an afterthought.

To change the trajectory of this problem, PICHA Stock, a catalyst for change that offers diverse imagery and equal financial rewards with a 50% commission to contributors, has launched Breaking Barriers – a diverse and uplifting array of images and short stories of people living with different forms of disabilities. The visual collection shows diverse people with disabilities in everyday situations – school, work, and in the community – expressing themselves in their voice and telling their stories.

Josiane Faubert, the founder of PICHA Stock, believes strongly that visual representation of people living with disabilities in a positive and empowered way is critical if we want them to be seen and felt in our society. “With this collection, we set out to transform the visual narrative of people with disabilities by breaking down the barriers that once held them back,” Faubert said. “Just as images have the power to shape ideas, we believe they have the power to move the world – elevating diverse narratives that can alter perceptions, evoke empathy and build community together, irrespective of your abilities.”

The Breaking Barriers collection is built on the premise that visual marketing and media stories should represent and depict people with disabilities in the full range of human experiences that constitute our daily life and portray actual people, not actors portraying disability. Around the world, over 1 billion people live with some form of disability.

More importantly, this collection avoids representing the stereotypical, pitiful and patronizing narrative of curing or fixing disability, instead, it accurately shows disability as one aspect of a person’s identity, while capturing their talents and contributions.

“We are calling on changemakers and visual diversity activists and inviting photographers interested in growing this collection and storytelling project to add more of their creative contributions to steadily grow this special visual library, which will be part of our premium image library,” Faubert added. “Through partnerships and collaboration, we can optimize the scale, reach and impact of this worthy project.”

The project will support the Ghana Federation of Disability Organizations with proceeds from the purchase of images from this collection. Images from the Breaking Barriers collection can be accessed and licensed through PICHA (pichastock.com/breakingbarriers) and 10 percent of every image sale goes to the Ghana Federation for Disability Organizations – the national umbrella body that galvanizes and champions support for people living with disabilities to access resources for their personal and collective development.

PICHA has over the years championed the breakdown of visual stereotypes to create a more authentic visual view of people, especially minorities across media, advertising, and social media.

PICHA is a visual content provider of Afrocentric images for telling stories. PICHA provides individuals, brands, and businesses with access to royalty-free stock photography of Africans and Afro-descendants to help them tell authentic visual stories and connect with diverse audiences. By empowering local creatives, PICHA is driving its mission to provide diverse visual content that showcases a contemporary side of black people and communities.

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