Jonah Sachs is the CEO and Co-founder of Free Range Studios. He is an internationally recognised storyteller, designer and entrepreneur. He is also the author of the best-selling book, Winning the Story Wars.
First, let me say this open process is how campaigning should be done. Non-profit campaigns need to break expectations of their audiences if they are really going to change anything and get beyond the choir. That’s terribly hard to do for a group of people that knows an issue well, believes passionately in it and usually speaks to others who agree. Taking this beyond your four walls, getting weird ideas and testing will change everything.
So let me get weird right away and say that the “disability brand” is broken. And it has the opposite problem that most traditional product brands have. With a product, you usually have something inherently unemotional, unheroic and low stakes that you have to puff up and add meaning and connection to. In the case of disabled people, it’s the opposite. People naturally root for those who have the odds stacked against them but struggle mightily to overcome them. It’s considered the most basic goodness to show compassion and care for others who, through no fault of their own, have to work harder just to get by. Although many of us think disability doesn’t touch our lives, 1 in 7 people is disabled. We all know and love disabled people.
And yet, say the word “disabled” and the images that come to people’s mind will be mixed and muddled – and often invoke a spiteful narrative. That’s the level you need to be working on. The UN Convention will not be the lead. We have to start at the gut emotional level to redefine what comes to mind when you think disabled. Have you seen this video? That’s a new image of the disabled. Not pity and not some flat declaration that this guy has dignity. This is someone that makes us, the audience want to be better through his disability. It’s time for a new story about what disability is and what disabled people and their allies (the other key heroes of this story) can do. This is basic good vs evil. Don’t be afraid to say so.