The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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People with disabilities are rarely featured in TV ads and other popular media, which has prompted a group of disability-focused organizations from Canada and the United States to publish an open letter calling on the media to be more inclusive of people with disabilities.

Launching on International Day of Persons with Disabilities today (3 December) an initiative and campaign, ‘Visibility for Disability,’ aims to change how people see disability by changing what they see in popular media.

The campaign’s launch video features a focus group reacting to TV commercials featuring people with disabilities, exposing the misconceptions surrounding disabilities. One ad is for a breakfast cereal and the other for laundry detergent. The reactions from the real focus group show that many people have unease and preconceived notions about the disabled, as they make comments like “A bit of a stretch.” And “It just rubs me the wrong way.” Once the organizers explain why the disabled people are in the commercials, the attitudes turn positive.

The campaign drives to a website,, where people can pledge their support by adding their names to the open letter, while finding resources for hiring people with disabilities both in front of and behind the camera.

Currently, fewer than 3% of characters on North American television have disabilities and of these, 95% are played by able-bodied actors, according to the Calgary Society for Persons with Disabilities (CSPD).

The Visibility for Disability initiative is asking content creators to pledge their support towards giving people with disabilities more screen time. So far, 100 content creators from film, television, advertising and marketing have signed the open letter; including celebrities like Danny Woodburn of Seinfeld, Kurt Yaeger of Sons of Anarchy, Eileen Grubba of HBO’s Watchmen, CJ Jones of Baby Driver, as well as major brands like Levi’s and Shaw Communications.


Client: Calgary Society for Persons with Disabilities

Executive Director: Mickey Greiner

Administrative Assistant: Dallal

Agency: Wax

Creative Director: Nick Asik

Design Director: Monique Gamache

ACD/Copywriter: Chris Lihou

Copywriter: Jordan Findlayson, Monica Sommerville

Art Director: Brad Connell, Sam Benesh

Production Artist: Thomas Turner, Tina Song

Director, Strategy: Greg Damus

Account Executive: Michala Allen

Production Company: 2 Words Productions

Director of Photography: Jay Lawrence, Tom Acton

Editor: Jay Lawrence

Camera Assistant: Mark Riddle

Audio: Dan Gretton

Audio Production: 6 Degrees

Audio Director: Dan McManus

Sound Engineer: Peter Irwin