Performativity and the Disregard of the Disabled Community

Kat Chung
October 17, 2022
Graph from the CDC showing that 61 million adults in the US live with a disability
Source: CDC

According to the CDC, over 61 million adults in America live with a disability. Within that, statistics show that 25% of the female population have a disability. While the majority of us may not see these statistics as important markers, someone within our Gen Z community is being impacted by a disability.

Everyday, someone with a disability faces a barrier, ranging from a physical task like climbing stairs, or a remote task like ordering groceries online. Today, people with disabilities rely on  caregivers, accommodations, and/or an adaptive piece of equipment to overcome their challenges. The Office of Disability Employment Policy states that “accommodations may include physical changes, use of assistive technology, communication through interpreters or close captioning, and policy enhancements”. 

Even with accomodations, people who have disabilities face difficulties in adapting to their accommodations. For example, getting used to using a wheelchair, guide dog or assistive technology is no easy feat and can take years for someone to get the hang of it. Furthermore, while the new updates in our everyday social media apps may feel like an upgrade, it often causes confusion amongst people with disabilities, thus increasing the learning curve for people with disabilities to use that product/service altogether.  

From the public eye, companies and marketers appear as if they care about people who rely on accomodations – the disabled community, but do they truly care about their target audience? Short answer yes, long answer, no. It’s not that marketers don’t care about their demographic, it’s the fact that marketers don’t understand how challenging ‘basic’ tasks, such as purchasing soap, can be for the disabled community.