Ours is a time of inclusion and visibility of all people. Our global society actively seeks to dilute the stereotype around disabilities and disabled individuals (as well as about gender, age, race, culture, and lifestyle choices), and that includes the portrayal of disability issues in the media!
So if you are to create visual content on the topic of disability (or you want to ensure your existing content is up-to-date and respectful of the disability community), you are going to need authentic pictures of disabled persons living in today’s world.
Luckily for you, we know exactly where you can find them!
No time to read? Then jump right in and click the “Discover” button to find awesome photos with a disability theme on Stock Photo Secrets!
Let’s first clear up a bit about what we mean when we talk about “authentic” pictures of people with disabilities.
While “disabled person” as a topic has been covered in the media, including imagery, for many years, the previous way to do it often relied on non-disabled models posing as disabled people in picture-perfect settings –that, looking back, you can think they were as unnatural as cringe-worthy–, boxed perspectives that portrayed them in repetitive scenarios: home indoors, medical settings, etc., and finally in ways that perpetuated negative stereotypes on the matter.
What today’s world wants to see are authentic stock photos that represent the real life that we all know so well. We also crave more inclusion and diverse images at the core of this demand, along with useful tools to make visuals accessible to all, such as Adobe Create's Accessibility tool to find palettes that are accessible for color-blind people.
People want to see the reality of the day-to-day of having a disability or special needs and positive, empowering concepts that show disabled individuals being “out there,” enjoying their life and being active members of their communities. Something close to reportage photography that documents rather than its stages.
What does this translate to in-stock photography? People with real disabilities as models performing in real everyday life situations, from buying groceries and traveling with the family to working in an executive position or behind a counter.
And the disability representation needs to be as wide as possible: wheelchair users, handicapped people, sign language speakers, people with Down syndrome and other learning disabilities, cerebral palsy and physical disability in general, plus what they call “invisible disabilities” such as deafness, low vision, mental health issues and the like. And let's not forget to include photos of women. The representation needs to be honest and body image positive, regardless of the subjects' specific disability and socioeconomic status.
Great non-lifestyle photos on this topic integrate elements of accessibility in everyday life settings: a wheelchair, crutches, screen readers, hearing aids… you get the idea.
And most of all, portraits that show happiness, joy, and companionship.
The picture above, which shows a young man with a prosthetic leg working in a woodwork workshop, is a perfect example of an authentic image with a disability concept.
The core value in today's disability stories is empowerment and positivity. A disabled character, be it a man, woman, or child, is a person with agency and a wide range of capacities and roles to perform. This is what disability activists have fought to make the world see, and photographers and creatives have finally caught up.
To sum it up: Real people with real disabilities in everyday life situations. Those are the kind of images of people with disabilities you need to pick and the kind of inclusion image an artist needs to create.
Here we compiled the stock photo agencies where you can find the most accurate and commercially valuable images of disabled persons (be it a disabled man, a disabled woman, or a disabled child) for your projects.
BONUS: CPSC's Free Image Collection of People with Disabilities
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently launched a small collection of free stock images featuring people with disabilities using home safety devices. These images are all in the public domain and are free to download and use for everyone.
With simple composition, these images portray people not only with different types and degrees of disability but also of diverse ethnicities, ages, and genders. So it’s overall a very inclusive concept, albeit within a topic niche (home safety).
According to this governmental organism, they noticed a lack of representation of this particular niche in stock photography when they went searching for pictures to use in their latest campaigns on home safety guidelines and awareness and came out empty-handed after checking even the top and most high-end depositories. Therefore, they decided to create their own photos and release them for public use.
Disability Images – A Specialized Disability Image Library
With a transparent name like Disability Images, there’s little to no need to explain that this site offers exclusive pictures of people with disabilities.
This specialized disability collection is full of photos that portray people living with disabilities in all kinds of scenarios, and it’s carefully arranged by type of disability and general topic: Addiction, ADHD, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, or Spinal Cord Injury, are just some very specialized categories they have.
They are the ideal disability awareness photos for all kinds of projects.
Photocase – Artsy Disability Photos
Photocase is a stock photo agency based in Berlin that thrives with a highly-curated and very artistic and unique image catalog that has a particular European vibe and includes a good selection of inclusion images that are perfect for visual content creation (like the ones that illustrate this article!). This makes them a great alternative to premium services like Offset, for example.
- Learn more in our Photocase review
- Discover Photocase disability images
- Save with our Photocase Coupon Code
Stockphotos.com – Affordable Disabled People Photos
Stockphotos.com is a service aimed at small and medium-sized businesses and provides professional stock photos at affordable prices. The library of over 8 million images includes modern inclusion images that will suit any disability awareness design you have in mind.
- Learn more in our Stockphotos.com review
- Discover Stockphotos.com disability photos
- Check out the awesome Club Easy offer
Shutterstock – Great Variety in Images of Disabilities
Known as “the stock photo giant”, Shutterstock has one of the largest image collections on the web, with 280 million files to date. In it, they include millions of authentic inclusion images with a marked commercial value, perfect for marketing, advertising, and more.
- Learn more in our Shutterstock review
- Discover Shutterstock pictures of disabled persons
- Use our Shutterstock Coupon Code to save
iStock – Exclusive Disability Images
A renowned name in the industry, iStock is a stock photo agency famous for hosting a large collection of exclusive photos you can’t find anywhere else but here, and they additionally have millions of budget, non-exclusive images too. Their library has lots of photos of disabled people taken with a current perspective that you can certainly make use of in your creative endeavors.
- Learn more in our iStock review
- Discover iStock images of disabled people
- Grab our iStock Promo Code to unlock savings
Adobe Stock – Disability Stock Photos for Creative Cloud
Adobe Stock is a stock photo service developed by Adobe, and it’s fully integrated into its Creative Cloud platform, meaning you can access millions of images from any of Creative Cloud’s image editing apps to work seamlessly. The collection has numerous realistic disability photos to accurately represent this segment of the population in any visual design.
- Learn more in our Adobe Stock review
- Discover Adobe Stock pictures of disabled persons
- Take advantage of the Adobe Stock Free Trial
Getty Images – Premium Disability Photos
Getty Images is a prestigious stock photo agency with a strong global presence and a very high-end library full of exclusive content. Their Disability Collection offers over 1,600 carefully curated images that depict people with disabilities in their everyday life routines, focusing on diversity and inclusion.
- Learn more in our Getty Images review
- Visit the Getty Images' Disability Collection
- Use Getty Images Ultrapacks to save your photo purchases
Canva Pro – Unlimited Disability Pictures
Canva Pro is the premium service from Canva that includes an all-in-one and very easy-to-use design platform and collections with millions of stock images, videos, and graphics to complete your visual creations. Their stock photo library is modern and varied, and it includes lots of pictures with inclusive and authentic representations of disabilities.
- Discover Canva Pro
- Check out Canva's disability images
- Try the service for free with the Canva Pro free trial
- Learn all about Canva Pro prices
Create Positive & Inclusive Visuals with Great Disability Images
Any of the above-listed stock photo libraries is a good resource to license unique stock photos that represent disabled people and the daily events of living with a disability in an empowering, positive, and inclusive way.
Even better, they all provide professional-quality photography that is royalty-free and totally safe to use in any professional or personal project you have in store.
- Disability Images if you want expert disability-related imagery
- Photocase for a more artistic approach to disabled people's photos
- Stockphotos.com is the budget-friendly option for disability images
- Shutterstock has the most variety of pictures of people with disabilities
- iStock has exclusive inclusion of images of disabled persons
- Adobe Stock offers disability stock images that fit seamlessly if you work with Creative Cloud
- Getty Images has curated high-end disability-themed photos.
Are you ready to create disability awareness visuals? We’ll love to see them!
Header image: Copyright davidpereiras / Photocase.com, all rights reserved