People with disability are the most marginalised group of people in the world because of the barriers and limitations placed on us. Having a disability is a natural, normal part of society and it can happen to anyone, at any stage – it’s a part of being human. Disability does not discriminate.
When I was a kid and getting bullied at school and I was really upset, I’d say, “I don’t know anyone like me, I don’t see anyone like me on the TV or the radio or in the newspaper and that sucks! That’s not fair.”
It can be hard because society often thinks if you have a disability or acquire a disability, your life is over. This has been widely represented in advertising campaigns in the past and has such a significant influence on the way people perceive people with disability. An employer, parents of my future partner, a barista and the wider community can think that we are broken or not capable of living a fulfilled and successful life because of our disability. I’m here to show that people with disability can be positive contributing members of society.
Last Saturday, I was lucky enough to play and win my fifth straight Australian Open Grand Slam (it still sounds crazy to say!). I’ve always wanted to make what I do mainstream and champion disability inclusion on and off the court. I want a younger generation to see what I didn’t see on TV, print or hear on the radio; someone like them that can achieve their dreams, get a job and be great at it. They can travel, have fun, have a partner and do all the normal things everyone takes for granted. Saturday’s match was broadcast onto every single TV in Australia, and that means a lot to not only me but also the four-and-a-half million people in Australia with disability. It’s showing the world that people with disability can be elite and are normal and therefore represented positively.
What it is all about. Amazing to broadcast today’s match to hundreds of thousands of homes across the country and millions around the world, and very pumped to get the win! @AustralianOpen #ausopen @wwos pic.twitter.com/YmEvoiEmHq
— Dylan Alcott (@DylanAlcott) January 24, 2019
There are so many reasons why leveraging disability in advertising and media can positively influence the wider community to give people with disability a voice, create opportunities, change the way people see us, talk to us, employ us, market to us and increase your revenue.
The corporate world is leading the way by building the economic case and return on investment for disability inclusion in the workplace, and studies have shown that we are equal or more productive than our able-bodied counterparts. But we need to continue to champion disability diversity and inclusion in the mainstream because the influence of media is so powerful and has a tangible roll on effect.
I have been so grateful to be the face of ANZ at the Australian Open for two years straight, and the ads have always been about me ‘Dylan’ and haven’t focused on my disability. That is so special and cool because I am a person first and secondly, a person with disability. We’re trending in the right direction, but we need to continue to include more people with disability in advertising and media roles to influence social and generational change by normalising disability.
Dylan Alcott OAM, Co-founder Get Skilled Access