Tag Archives: media

Why is it so hard to find books with a disabled character?

Dan White is the author of the brilliant The Department of Ability comic book, featuring a cast of superheroes whose impairments are their greatest superpower.

For World Book Day, Dan tells us how he was inspired to create the comic book and why there needs to be more disabled characters in literature.

My book-devouring, art loving daughter, Emily, had stopped anticipating reading about disabled characters in her comics or literature.  For her, that day would never appear. Or would it?

It was the disparaging look I saw on her face when she first learnt to read that set me on a course of action.  Art, writing and comics are my second love, and that drove me to create the group of disabled superheroes that is The Department of Ability – a graphic novel with a difference, launching later this year!

Disability isn’t the main focus – they’re battling to save the world

I wanted to draw disability in a way that was not really about the disability. Yes, the five characters in he Department of Ability show physical differences, but there’s no backstory, no preface on disability and how it affects this motley crew, you just get 5 different SUPERHEROES battling to save the world in a final war between good and evil.

The Department of Ability are colourful, strong and fun! A ghost? Alien? A Dog? A Cheetah? Emily? How’s that for diverse!?

Several of the characters designed for Department of Ability comic strip
The characters from The Department of Ability comic strip

The Department of Ability has captured hearts worldwide even before the first volume is published. But it’s not just disabled hearts, it’s hearts from everywhere. From the warmth of Matthew Wright, to the voice of The Today Show USA, to the desk of comic genius Stan Lee, the belief and enthusiasm of established comic writer Leah Moore (daughter of Alan) and the tireless work of Scope, all who have seen and loved my creations see a future of change.

There’s a growing desire worldwide to see more diversity and essential inclusion. It’s a strong a message to those in charge of what we read and watch, telling them, “we love difference, and want to see more of it. We all have a right to be heard”.

Inclusion is vital, especially for children

Currently, this world seems to be run by people terrified of accepting disability into the media they enjoy but inclusion is vital, especially for children. They need and want to see images that reflect themselves, otherwise we’re going to have another generation growing up being seen solely as needy and marginalised.  Who wants that?

I read and review many books on disability but they are incredibly rare and it makes you wonder how much more could be achieved if the industry threw caution to the wind and realised the good they could attain by giving us everyday, non-static, non-stereotypical characters.

Inclusion means include, and that means all. It will dispel myths, preconceptions, and will inspire the reader to discuss disability in a whole new light, barriers will fall and disability will not be seen as the last to the party.

A young girl holding up her drawing of her superhero, a mermaid with a wheelchair

I hope The Department of Ability will kick open a door for more diverse stories

All the talents that blossom and bubble in this amazing community will finally be able to show itself to the wider world, it just needs a thinker outside the box to see there is no barrier, and to see the power and might of the untapped purple pound, all £249 disposable billions of it.

2017 is the year of Department of Ability BOOK One, and it will hopefully kick open a door for an army of stories, pictures and talent to emerge.  The authors are there, the future is there, let it in. The Department of Ability are loud, brash, dysfunctional, passionate and determined, a bit like everyone else on earth really.

For National Storytelling Week, we asked for better representation of disability in literature. Read about the activities we’ve done so far and please help us spread the message.

Visit the Department of Ability website to read the comic strips and keep up-to-date with the launch.

Top 5 disability inclusive books – National Storytelling Week

Dan White is the author of the brilliant Department of Ability comic book, featuring a cast of superheroes whose impairments are their greatest superpower.

In this blog Dan runs down his list of the top five books that feature disability.

Disability in literary form is rare. I have searched, read and reviewed as many books as I could find that include it. Here is a list of my champion books. So, buckle up and, as my daughter Emily says to me as her wheelchair passes out of the house, “let’s roll!”

5. ‘Mr Millet’s farm’ by Catherine Lord

I had to include this. Catherine is the great undiscovered children’s author. So far wrongly ignored by mainstream publishers, Mr Millet’s farm is colourful and unique. Catherine writes with complete charm and understands both her subject and the little eyes who read it. It’s the story of Raj,  a wheelchair and the different animals that Front cover of Catherine Lord's book, Mr Millet's farm. It depicts a bear in a wheelchair on a farm.reside on the farm. The moral of the story is that it’s great to be unique and be who you are. The book aims to help raise awareness of disabilities from a young age.

Complete with wonderful, colourful illustrations, Mr Millet’s farm is perfect to read together with your children. It is an utterly beautiful book on acceptance and deserves a wider audience.

4. ‘Synthesis: Weave’ by Deane Saunders-Stowe

Disability Sci-fi? Yes! Science fiction is the most imaginative of all genres. To imagine a world that does not exist takes a special mind. And Front cover for Deane Saunders-Stowe's book, Synthesis Weave. It depicts a wheelchair user climbing up the side of a cliffto integrate disability makes that mind even more incredible. It shows a world in the future where disability and wheelchairs still have issues, but things have moved on. For instance, plasma limbs (spoiler alert), the uses of magic and the dangers of machine ethics give the book massive depth and the fact it has a wheelchair user climbing a mountain on the front cover sold it to me almost instantly!

3. ‘The Christmasaurus’ by Tom Fletcher

Well, I was sold on this because of the Christmas aspect! But the gem of this book is the fact that the main character uses a wheelchair. However, his disability is only broached almost a quarter of the way through and then it is dealt with swiftly and to the point.  Scope gave me this book to review and I consumed it all the way home from London. It was generally laugh out loud funny, the main character William is hilarious and a character in his own Front cover of Tom Fletcher's book, The Christmasaurus. It depicts a young boy riding on the back of a dinosaur surrounded by snowflakes.right.  You feel relaxed around his story and therefore laugh at his wheelchair accidents. You also get a darn good Christmas story to boot, with a dinosaur!

Tom has a talent for writing for kids that also sucks in the adult reader. Never have I felt more comfortable laughing out loud on the packed 5.30 from Waterloo. Diversity? Inclusion? Laughs? Nailed it.

2. ‘The Art of Disability’ by David Proud

David is a good friend of mine and an author to boot, however, that relationship has no bearing on his book being included here. Essentially a guide book for media types, The Art of Disability is a painstakingly sourced and written piece on the power of representation, it’s importance and how inclusion can be achieved in the wider media world. David, a wheelchair user, knows his stuff. His inveFront cover of David Proud's book, The Art of Disability. It shows a wheelchair user on a stage in darkness.stigations into the industry, his tips and his knowledge are evident.

Each chapter is easily digestible and informative for disabled people wanting to break into the industry. David is passionate and his experience, talent and knowledge ooze from the book. Full of quotes and humour this is essential for any disabled talent or any uninformed media executive.

1. ‘The Spiral Cage’ by Al Davison

Easily the winner, a graphic novel of such diverse beauty and power. I have re-read it constantly and it has had a huge impact on my work. Al the author gives you his life of being born with Spina Bifida from birth to present day in a series of incredible, stark, beautiful black and white images. The variant styles and text absorb you totally. Imagery is paramount and here Al uses many styles to illustrate his life from an era where being born differently meant different attitudes.

We see his formative years, his doctors, bullies, love and dreams being played in powerful, dedicated art. It is unashamedly rFront cover of Al Davison's book, The Spiral Cage. It depicts an abstract pattern with the close up of a face.aw both in language and style, but it is essential to read.  Sadly, out of print, but with a sequel in the works and a reprint hopeful, Al’s book needs to have a resurgence, especially today when it is more relevant than ever. The Spiral Cage is unlike any book on disability and that is what stands it out from anything else. It is so unique that people who buy comics for entertainment need to purchase this, as it will tell them something about life.

We ran a Twitter poll which showed that 3 in 4 people want to see more inclusion of disability in literature

So, for National Storytelling Week, we’re working on this. We’ll be asking for better representation of disability in literature, as well as celebrating some great work that we want to see more of.

To find out more about stories at Scope, head to our Stories Hub and please get involved with our activities for National Storytelling Week.

The hidden sex lives of disabled people – End the Awkward

Alice is a disability rights activist and journalist. As part of our End the Awkward campaign, she shares her views on the media’s portrayal of sex and disability.

Content note: this blog references offensive disablist language and contains discussions about sex.

Disabled people don’t have sex, do they? It certainly seems that way as our sex lives are so rarely represented in the media, if at all.

Have you ever seen a disabled person having sex in a film, TV program, or a mainstream porno? Me neither.

We are a generation which loves to talk about sex, so why aren’t disabled people part of the conversation? Why are our sex lives are being hidden? And why are we being desexualised? We are consistently portrayed as people who never get our leg over and this couldn’t be further from the truth.

However, things have started to change with Maltesers recent ad campaign. The brand launched three disability-themed adverts which premiered on the opening night of the Paralympic Games, and one in-particular really stood out to me.

A text description of the advert is available at the end of this blog post.

Three women are sat around chatting about sex and one (who is a wheelchair user) talks about getting frisky with her boyfriend who didn’t complain when her hand started spasming! Funnily enough Storme Toolis who plays the part is thought to be the only disabled actor to ever have had a sex scene on UK TV.

It is hard to put into words just how happy I was to see this advert, it reminded me of the conversations I have had with friends leaving them in stitches when sharing my sex stories.

Disability in the bedroom

I have spasms and seizures, and I have them when I’m in bed. This can make sex both awkward and absolutely hilarious, not too different from non-disabled sex right?

In the past I’ve had to explain to a partner that my legs weren’t shaking because I’d had an orgasm – they were going into a spasm.

I’ve also come round from seizures before and not remembered who the person on top of me was. You can’t really get much more awkward then that, especially when you’re in a long term relationship!

Disability certainly keeps sex interesting and there are also some perks. Having so many seizures during sex forces me and my partner to have regular breaks which means it usually lasts much longer then it would without them. And telling people I’m disabled early on is also a great dickhead-filter, especially when online dating. You’d be amazed at how many people have stopped talking to me once they discovered I was disabled, but this has meant I’ve only ever met up with open minded people who I know I can trust to get into bed with.

Having barriers in the bedroom also means disabled people have to be more creative and our sex lives are often far from vanilla, trust me. Look at Scope’s A to Z of sex and disability if you want to find out more!

End the awkward

Maltesers are paving the way to end the awkwardness around sex and disability, but there is a long way to go yet. This is evident from some of the online comments left on the advert such as: “Retards who have sex are disgusting.” And: “I don’t really understand how disabled ‘people’ can be sexual beings without having souls.”

These attitudes need to be challenged, and the best way to do that is for more brands and broadcasters to follow in Maltesers footsteps. The more disabled people’s sex lives are accurately represented, the better perceptions will become. I hope one day I can turn on my TV and see disabled characters (played by disabled actors) having sex and for it not be out of the ordinary.

Beyond the bedroom

But this goes beyond sex, Scope’s 2016 Disability In The Media Study found that 80 percent of disabled people felt underrepresented by TV and the media on the whole.

It seems like this is only addressed for a few weeks every four years when the Paralympics comes around and this needs to change. We are the world’s largest minority group and we need representation every day of the year.

So decision makers, please don’t stop broadcasting about disability just because the games are over, let’s keep it on the box, and while you’re at it why not start representing disabled people’s sex lives too?

Read more End the Awkward blogs, or get involved in the campaign by submitting your awkward story.

Video description: Three women sat outside around a picnic bench. The person telling the story is a wheelchair user and she is holding a bag of Maltesers in her hand. As she tells the story she shakes the bag and chocolates spill over the table. Her friends looked shocked at first but then everyone laughs. Text reads: “Look on the light side”.

Unlimited Festival: celebrating the art, theatre and music of disabled people

This month sees the return of the Unlimited Festival to the Southbank Centre in London. Now in its fifth year, the festival celebrates the work of disabled artists from across the world and in many different genres. In this blog disabled comedian Lee, aka Lost Voice Guy, previews his shows to go see when the festival starts on 6 September. 

In 2012, the Unlimited Festival was one of the highlights of the Cultural Olympiad and has aimed to showcase work from disabled artists, helping them reach new audiences and shift perceptions of disabled people.

As a stand up comedian without a voice (which explains my stage name of Lost Voice Guy), it was a honour to be asked to perform my latest show at the festival. In fact, when I was asked if I wanted to be involved, I jumped at the chance. Not only it is a great festival, it’s also in a beautiful venue in a fantastic city.

A poster for Lost Voice Guy's show with a carton version of Lee depicted
A poster for Lost Voice Guy’s show

I’m really looking forward to bringing my show, which is called ‘Disability For Dunces’ to the festival on Wednesday 7 September. As I write this blog, I’m performing it at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and I can’t wait to take it to other parts of the country as well.

Some awkward questions

Basically, my show shines a light on the general public’s view of disability and shatters some of the perceptions that they may have. For example, I often get asked if I’m as clever as Stephen Hawking, if I really need all that benefit money, if I really can’t talk at all and if I can have relationships. And that’s usually just minutes after I have met the person asking me!

I’m not sure why people get so awkward around disabled people but they definitely do! I’m often getting asked if I really can talk after my gigs, because obviously pretending to be disabled for the sake of entertainment is perfectly acceptable?!

Some people even ask if I can have sex…as an opening question! For the record, I definitely can.Lost_voice_guy_2_BLOG_SCOPE

All of these questions are embarrassing for both of us. When I was asked some of them for the first time I was speechless.

Many people just see disabled people as being stupid or as a burden to society. Believe it or not, we’re not all benefit cheats and, yes, we are allowed a sense of humour as well. It’s almost as if we’re normal human beings!

It is the people who portray this evil image of us and those who choose to believe it that are the problem. There may be a serious message behind it, but my show pokes fun at the awkwardness that exists and let’s everyone have a laugh about it.

What to see at Unlimited Festival

Comedian Lee on stage
Lost Voice Guy in action on stage

Of course, ‘Disability For Dunces’ is only one show out of many that you can see during the week long festival. There is something for everyone. But if you want my advice, I would definitely recommend you check out Jess Thom on Tuesday 6 September.

Jess has Tourette’s Syndrome, a condition that makes her say ‘biscuit’ 16,000 times a day. Her show, Stand Up, Sit Down, Roll Over, is a work in progress from a comedian whose unique neurology makes it impossible for her to stay on script.

Meanwhile, on Saturday 10 September, disabled activist, actor and comedian Liz Carr has chosen the spectacular world of musical theatre as the backdrop to exploring the complex and controversial subject of assisted suicide in her new show Assisted Suicide: The Musical.

If comedy isn’t your thing, why not go to ‘Superhuman or Simply Human’, which is also on Saturday 10 September. At this event, they will be discussing whether disabled people have become an integrated part of mainstream media. With a constant focus on integration and an increasing presence of disabled actors, presenters and public figures in mainstream media, does disability still need to be highlighted as ‘something special’?

During the festival, you’ll also get the chance to view things such as a series of public artworks by Cameron Morgan which celebrates learning disability culture. Cameron is fascinated by popular culture, especially television, films and music from past decades. Working with iconic TV imagery from the 1930s onwards, the artist spent six months in Project Ability’s studio creating nine paintings that honour the past nine decades of television history.

And if you don’t trust my recommendations at all, you can choose from over 40 events on the Unlimited Festival website.

Disability For Dunces is performed on Wednesday 7 September at 8pm. Tickets are available on Southbank Centre’s website.

This Dad turned his disabled daughter into a comic book hero

Dan White is the author of the brilliant Department of Ability comic book, featuring a cast of superheroes whose impairments are their greatest superpower.

In this blog Dan tells us how his daughter Emily was disappointed to find that she there weren’t any superheros that looked like her – so he decided to make his own!

“Born to be different. Born to save the world”

My name is Dan and I am an artist with a beautiful, talented daughter called Emily, who I adore. We are both proud to be part of an incredible community of people.

Emily was born with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. This is a condition where the spine does not develop properly, leaving gaps in the spinal cord. When she was younger she was a very impressive bum-shuffler! But around five years ago, we bought Emily her first wheelchair. She loves exploring the world around her, and in her new wheelchair she could introduce herself to all sorts of new exciting things.

Like so many other incredible kids, Emily is blessed with endless amount of curiosity. She is a complete book-worm and absolutely loves learning through books, comics, films and music.

“Something had to change”

Unfortunately, this wonderful curiosity often gave way to frustration, annoyance and bewilderment. Emily always wanted to find characters, icons and images that she could relate to. However, very few made her feel accepted and included. Speaking to other kids, it became clear that they often felt the same.

Soon it became obvious to me that something had to change. I started gnawing on my pencil and, very soon, the ideas started flowing.

Just like Emily I love comics, and I have always enjoyed drawing. Before long I had sharpened my pencil and started developing a new comic that all children would enjoy. I soon realised that it had be about what all children aspire to be: Superheroes!

It is easy to underestimate children. But they are so much more imaginative, accepting and inclusive than adults. This is why I designed my comic for all kids. Because they will be responsible for a future in which people are not discriminated against or side-lined.

Meet the superheroes

With Emily’s help I created a whole world of diverse, unique and accessible heroes. All our heroes are dynamic team-players who use their impairment as their greatest superpower. After a lot of deliberation, we decided to call the comic The Department of Ability.

Several of the characters designed for Department of Ability comic strip
Meet the characters from Department of Ability comic strip

Among the first people to see the images were the charities on Facebook. Strongbones, a  relatively young charity, was the first to respond with real enthusiasm, and gave me the support and backing I needed. They are still very involved with the growth and global adventures of the Department of Ability.

Taking over the world

As soon as we started we had big hopes in the comic/cartoon world. It wasn’t long before our superheroes were taking social media by storm, with just a quick click and a paste on my PC.

Soon after designing the characters I gave up my day-job to become a full-time artist so that the Department of Ability could keep growing. The characters became more and more popular, from Australia, through India, to America. It is clear that Emily’s vision and insight have struck a chord with people all over the world.

It’s a Marvel!

At this point we knew everyone loved the characters, but we still had to design and produce the comic. I knew this would be a 24-hour job, but with the help of a literary agent (a real life wonder woman), it started taking shape.

She even showed the drawings to Stan Lee of Marvel, one of the most influential, brilliant and creative figures in the whole industry. He loved the idea, and now we are looking to work with him. I couldn’t believe it. It is one of my childhood fantasies realized.

The disabled community is a hub of amazing talent, from artists to dancers, to film makers to musicians. It is time they were all able to share and showcase their brilliance.

To infinity and beyond

Right now it couldn’t be a more exciting time for the comic. Strongbones threw an enormous party for us at Hamleys in June and The Guardian broke the news of Stan’s possible involvement. Since then Emily and I have appeared on The Saturday Show, CBBC Newsround, ITV Lunchtime News, and BBC Radio. There has even been some film interest from overseas and discussions with Merlin entertainment. I might even be working with one of the world’s leading comic book writers to finish the first adventure.

I could never have imagined our idea and vision would appeal to so many people. But it seems attitudes and prejudices are finally changing. Inclusion is coming!

Or, in the words of the Department of Ability: Born to be different, born to save the world.

Visit the Department of Ability website to read the comic strips. Alternatively, you can find out more on Facebook and on Twitter.

Want to see more characters disabled children can identify with? We would love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below to share your ideas.

“Football clubs need to think about disabled people” Kelly, the football club owner

30 under 30 logo

This story is part of 30 Under 30.

 

Kelly Perks-Bevington is an entrepreneur and business owner from the West Midlands who has spinal muscular atrophy type 3 and uses an electric wheelchair. 

As part of our 30 Under 30 campaign, she talks about getting into the world of work, her latest business venture and her aims of creating the most accessible football club in the country.

I wasn’t very studious at college so I was absolutely desperate to get straight into work. After loads of rejections, I got a job at a doctors surgery as a receptionist. It kind of lit a spark and made me think “I’ve got a path now”.

From there, I got a passion for being in the world of work. I applied to join a concierge company and I actually went on as an admin assistant there and worked my way up through the ranks until I had my own list of football clients.  This is where my lifestyle company, G5 Lifestyle, started.

Alongside my dad, I also run G5 Sports Consultancy LTD which we use as a vehicle for all of our crazy schemes. We have used it to consult into different football clubs on their practices and football business.

On the side of all this, I also run kellyperksbevington.com which is a portal for me to write blogs about things I’m passionate about. I really enjoy doing that and have had a lot of interest from big companies and media outlets recently, which is really exciting!

Kelly, a young woman, smiles while seated in a stand at a football stadium

Buying  a football club

My dad and I established the G5 business and then we went and bought Kidderminster Harriers Football Club.

It all kind of fell into place really nicely. My dad was in talks with the club for a while and the closer we got to it, the more we saw it as a viable business. My dad has been in the industry for 30 years and I’ve been in it for 10 so we’ve both got a pool of contacts that could be useful to the club.

We just wanted to get everything going in the right direction and make the club function more as a business. We also want to create ways to make money off the pitch as well as on the pitch to keep the club afloat. We’re trying a couple of different things like diversity projects, education projects, development on the ground and making the club more energy efficient.

The club is over 100 years old and we’re going to take it into a new era and get it functioning like a modern day football club should.

The fans have been really grateful as we put a significant amount of money in to secure the future of the club. We’ve had a lot of positive reactions which can’t always be expected as we’re making so many changes to something that people are used to. The response has been great from all the fans.

We’re starting a women’s football team, we had a diversity day with the Panjab FA and Jersey FA, and we’re planning to set up a whole events programme for next year and get the whole community involved!

Kelly, a young woman in an electric wheelchair, looks out over a football pitch

Making the club accessible

I’m a disabled person and the ground is not the best for me on a day-to-day basis. Upstairs we have our hospitality suite and our VIP boxes. I can’t gain access to any of that. Our boardroom where we have all of our board meetings is upstairs. Basically, all the good stuff is upstairs! There are also steps in the corridors of the offices at the club.

We’re putting ramps in where needed so we can take on more disabled staff and apprentices, other than myself and we’re going to put a lift in to the upper levels. Disabled fans will be able to enjoy the VIP areas as they should. They will be able to get access to all of the match day hospitality, as well as booking their private and corporate events upstairs with full accessibility.

We will also be adjusting our toilet facilities to make them better for every disabled person not just certain disabled people. The disabled  seating will also be changed. At the moment, it’s on the front row, so I want to move it around so people aren’t just in the firing line of the ball during matches. I’ve nearly been hit in the face many times watching a match!

I think it’s so important to make these changes. I need to practice what I preach. I get really annoyed when I go places and I want to have the VIP treatment but I can’t. I just need disabled people to have the exact same choices and experiences as everyone else. I want to make sure they can come to the club and enjoy the football without having to make special arrangements. I want it to be smooth sailing for everyone.

I think that football clubs need to think about disabled people. If we take away all the barriers so people can just enjoy things without having to worry, people are more likely to come and enjoy things and put their money into your pocket.

The future is looking bright. The club as a whole are united now.

Kelly, a young woman in an electric wheelchair, looks out over a football ground

Kelly is sharing her story as part of our 30 Under 30 campaign. We are releasing one story a day throughout June from disabled people under 30 who are doing extraordinary things. Catch up on all the stories so far on our 30 under 30 page.

To find out more about stories and how they are at the heart of everything we do at Scope, visit our new Stories hub.

How are disabled people represented in advertising?

Channel 4 announced last week that they’re giving away £1m of advertising airtime for brands which feature disabled people during the Paralympics.

We can’t wait to see the winning ad. Hopefully it gets viewers, broadcasters and advertisers to think more about how disabled people are depicted in adverts.

Frequently, disabled people are absent from advertising. Despite there being around 11 million disabled people in the UK, you can count the number of disabled people shown on TV adverts right now on one hand. It’s fantastic that Channel 4 are doing this, but is it telling that they feel the need to?

When disabled people are portrayed, it’s often to highlight their inspirational story and how they’ve overcome it – or to create an emotional reaction from the audience.

Many people refer to this as ‘inspiration porn’ – used to inspire or motivate (often non-disabled) people to achieve more (and buy more things). As Charlie Swinbourne noted in the Guardian, “Disabled people aren’t here to inspire you“:

“The biggest problem with inspiration porn is that although it shows people overcoming disability, it often means disabled people are not shown as being complex human beings, with more to us than the sum of our disability alone.”

Is representation improving?

Scope For Change and disability campaigner Sarah Troke thinks representation of disabled people in the media is improving:

“I think that representation of disabled people in the media is definitely improving! Channel 4 has done an amazing job of challenging perceptions of disability and the awkwardness around disability –  especially with The Last Leg.”

“It’s so important that people with disabilities are featured in the mainstream media and advertising – particularly if they are showing them as independent and capable of participating in everyday life –  not only objects of charity.”

Sarah thinks that the way disabled people are depicted in the media can have a huge impact on the general public’s perceptions: “One of the most important things in the disability rights movement is challenging negative perceptions and attitudes about people with disabilities. The media is the most effective way of reaching huge audiences and challenging people’s perceptions.”

So with that in mind we’ve tracked down some recent adverts we think show disability in a positive light. They’re far from perfect –  but hopefully serve as stimulation for any brands hoping to  take on Channel 4’s advertising challenge.

Smirnoff Presents Chris Fonseca: We’re Open #deafdancers

You might have seen this ad on your Facebook feed last month. We like that it’s fun, inclusive and dynamic and doesn’t treat Chris any differently from the rest of the dancers. Not sure what all this has to with Vodka however.

Guinness: Wheelchair basketball

Guinness have a history of creating innovative and memorable adverts, and made this TV ad in 2013. It’s a bit ‘inspirational’ but should be applauded for showing a disabled person kicking ass on the court.

You Said We Did – Barclays Talking ATM

This is great. It’s not emotionally manipulative, and doesn’t have sad music or an ‘inspiring’ message. It’s funny and functional and shows how Barclays are improving their products for disabled people.

AXE – Find Your Magic

AXE have got a lot of attention from this advert released in Janaury 2016. It’s refreshing to see a deodorant brand celebrating difference (and indeed disability) in depicting masculinity in an inclusive fashion.

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Hearing Hands – Touching Ad By Samsung

This ad from Samsung has had over 13m views on Youtube, and it’s clear it’s had an emotional effect from reading the comments. It’s uplifting and well-intentioned, but is it using disability just for emotional effect?

What do you think of these adverts and the way they treat disability? Seen any adverts that float your boat or grind your gears? Let us know in the comments below. 

Disability Innovations: Championing accessibility in online ticketing

Disability Innovations is a blog series that gathers some of the most interesting new products and services that aim to make disabled people’s lives easier. We hope it will inspire more innovation in the disability field.

What is Una?

Una is a new primary ticketing service that hopes to address many of the major problems facing the UK ticketing industry, such as booking fees, counterfeiting, touting, site crashing and lost tickets. Una have developed a system using smart technology which will help to streamline ticketing, and deliver a transparent service which prides itself on customer service, and putting fans first. Sounds great. But what makes Una really stand out, is that aside from all this, they are also looking to develop the most accessible ticket system out there. Una’s approach is hoping to improve accessibility at all stages of the ticketing experience, from purchasing a ticket, to accessing the venue.

Una-Brand-Logo

What’s behind the idea?

Behind Una is a group of avid gig-goers who want to create a ticketing system that is as easy and effortless for everyone as possible. This is music to the ears of disabled gig goers up and down the country! Currently getting your hands on an accessible ticket can be a lengthy process, involving buying a standard ticket and then trying to get it exchanged for an accessible ticket, which isn’t always guaranteed! Other obstacles include having to negotiate with venues for a free ticket for a helper, a limited number of accessible tickets being available, and having to provide proof of disability/eligibility with every purchase. Then there’s the problem of physical access once you eventually get there!

According to a survey in 2014 by the charity Attitude is Everything, 95% of disabled gig-goers have experienced disability related barriers when booking tickets, so much so that 83% were put off buying tickets at all. Attitude is Everything campaign for improved disabled access to live music and are working together with Una to improve reform the system and make it as accessible as possible.

How is Una improving accessibility?

Una recognises that accessibility for disabled fans is one of the biggest issues facing the ticketing industry and that’s why accessibility forms a key part of Una’s quest to streamline and improve the system.  The big idea behind it is the ‘Una Pass’. The Una Pass holds all the information from your online account and holds your tickets, meaning paper tickets are a thing of the past. The Una Pass also grants your entry into the venue, and stores information of any access requirements you may have, and it can be used for cashless payments at the event. You can also opt to age verify your Pass so you won’t need to show additional ID at events or when purchasing age-restricted goods.

They’ve taken a similar approach for verifying disability and access eligibility. Disabled people buying tickets through Una only have to provide proof of eligibility once. Customers can provide proof, in the form of benefits or PIP(Personal Independence Payment) registration, doctor’s notes, or using the Access Card. Once this has been approved and verified, the details are stored on your account, so when you log in to buy a ticket, you will automatically be offered the option of buying standard or accessible tickets for an event. They’re also working to ensure their website is fully accessible, and will also offer a ticket hotline for those who prefer to order over the phone.

What’s more, Una are working together with event venues themselves to get all the information about accessibility and disabled access, including viewing platforms etc. and put that into a user friendly platform. This cuts out the middle man and saves people having to negotiate directly with venues, and makes the process as simple and fair as possible. Through their work with Attitude is Everything, they are also campaigning to promote better access at gigs and venues for disabled fans.

Una also offers you the opportunity to transfer your tickets to friends and family at the click of a button if you are no longer able to attend an event. Or you can sell them up to the day before the event, for face-value or less on Una’s secure marketplace so you’re never out of pocket. If there is a reserve list for an event, and you can no longer attend, your ticket is then automatically matched directly to the person first on the waiting list. If that wasn’t good enough, they are also hoping to work with venues to ensure that all accessible tickets are fully refundable.

What’s next for Una?

It really does seem that Una have thought of everything, so it might not come as too much of a surprise that they have been shortlisted as one of 25 semi-finalists for Nesta’s Inclusive Technology Challenge Prize (check it out, there are some amazing ideas there!). The prize challenged anyone and everyone to submit their idea of an innovative product, venture or technology which aims to ensure disabled people and their friends and families have equal access to opportunities. Now they’ve been shortlisted, Una are in the process of developing detailed plans with Nesta to be in with a chance of winning the £50,000 prize contract. The winner will be decided by the judges in June of this year.

Una are currently in talks with festivals and event venues and are hoping that the service will launch later this year. But if you can’t wait that long, you can already get your hands on an Una Pass via the website. Una currently have 2000 Free Passes to give-away, so you can sign up for a free Pass and join the ticketing revolution before it even happens! Their ultimate goal is to be the leading agency provider offering theatre, sport, music, arts and conference tickets in the UK.

Why we love it!

What we think makes Una special, is that despite being a mainstream service, they have made improved accessibility part of their core business offer. They want to improve the ticket buying experience for everyone, by creating a hassle free system that puts fans first. That means disabled fans too! They’re looking to move the industry forward, and we feel Una really shares Scope’s vision of a country where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. And that’s really exciting. We think we’re going to see great things from Una, so watch this space!

This blog is for information only. Scope does not endorse this product or service. We try to make sure our information is up to date and accurate at the time of publishing.

To tell us about a Disability Innovation, please email innovation@scope.org.uk.

Talking about disability: the best disabled vloggers from the web

Following the announcement of our 100th video on YouTube, we thought it would be the perfect time to share our favourite disabled vloggers across the web.

Their videos have given us plenty of food for thought, endless giggles and loads of inspiration at Scope HQ. Check out our dedicated playlist on our YouTube channel to see some of the best videos made by these brilliant disabled vloggers.

  1. The Mandeville Sisters


If you haven’t experienced the infectious energy of these two British sisters, we insist you check out their channel! With their 23,000 strong (and still growing!) subscriber fanbase, the Mandeville Sisters are taking YouTube by storm with their fun and, sometimes, controversial videos. Grace, the eldest of the two, was born with one foreshortened arm and often posts videos about the lighter side of having one hand.

  1. Fashioneyesta


Who says that being visually impaired means you can’t love fashion? This is exactly what UK based vlogger, Emily, asks in her channel dedicated to fashion, lifestyle and beauty. Never one to turn down the latest goodies from high street shops, she has a real passion for all the biggest trends. But don’t think it’s all just blusher and brogues; Emily tackles the day to day issues she faces as a visually impaired person, all in a fun and engaging way.

  1. Josh Sundquist


Josh is one of those guys who is good at everything. He’s a paralympian, bestselling author and motivational speaker. He’s loved for his boyish good looks, memorable raps and his penchant for the best Halloween costumes ever posted on the internet. Frankly, we’re a bit jealous! An amputee cancer survivor, Josh’s channel is filled with videos that focus on the positives and lighter side of having one leg. From awkward dates to finding his ‘sole’ mate, there is a video here for everyone to love.

  1. Bunny Hopkins


She is brightening up YouTube with her neon hair. 23 year old British-Canadian, Bunny Hopkins, is guaranteed to leave you smiling with her quirky and engaging videos. Bunny lives with a physical impairment and chronic illness caused by a rare disease called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Despite this, she always stands by her viewpoint that “it is what it is” and strives to be “positive in the face of adversity!”

  1. Tommy Edison


Unlike the other vloggers on this list, Tommy uses his impairment as the focus of his videos and they are some of the most entertaining pieces of film you will see on the internet. From getting people to try to describe colours to him, to describing his least favourite sounds – Tommy is out to get a laugh. He has managed to gain over 18 million views on his channel, which is no mean feat!

So, has this given you the urge to pick up the camera and start a vlog yourself? Is there anyone that you’d have liked to see on this list? Let us know in the comments below!

And why not subscribe to Scope’s official YouTube channel to be the first to see Scope’s newest films before anyone else. 

Please note: Scope is not responsible for the views and content produced by  the vloggers on this list!

Tell us your Scope shopping habits

With nearly 250 charity shops across the nation and new shops scheduled to open throughout the year, Scope’s retail chain is thriving.

Scope’s shops raise vital money for our work with disabled people and their families, as well as providing a visible presence on high streets across the nation. Our shops are a hub for local communities and offer bargains to shoppers, as well as giving volunteers an opportunity to gain new skills and experience.

Charity shopping habits

When it comes to our shops, it’s the stories from our customers, volunteers and staff that really spark people’s interest and that journalists want to hear about.

Over the coming weeks we’re particularly keen to hear more about your shopping habits as well as your views on charity shops in general and find out if you’re interested in getting involved with our media work in this area?

One habit we’re looking to explore is whether you have ever been guilty of buying brand-new clothes from the high street, but then never wearing these clothes outside of your home. Are they clogging up space in your wardrobe with the tags left on? We would love to know why you bought these clothes in the first place and we would also like to know why you never wore them. Were you following a fashion trend at the time, or did you buy the garments to slim into, but never reached your ideal weight?

Changing attitudes to charity shops

Another issue that always sparks our interest is people’s attitudes towards charity shops and whether public attitudes have changed over the years.

If you are a recent convert to charity shops we would love to hear from you and find out why you now shop in them. Maybe it’s the bargains, or maybe you’ve developed a new and unique style thanks to the wide range of clothes available in charity shops these days.

If you would like to share your views and experiences here and potentially help with future media work please contact Media officer, Katie Adams at katie.adams@scope.org.uk or call 020 7619 7730.

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