IMplicit bias – how visual images impact OUR perception of people

Have you noticed how visual images and the media impact your perception of people?

A central part of #ImplicitBias is the #assumptions we make about people based on their appearance, for example: their age, gender, skin color, body type, and physical ability.

Until the #disabilityrights movement came about, many of us thought about “people with disabilities” as limited, unable to participate in sports. I was amazed to learn that there was a competition for wheelchair athletes as early as 1948! We’ve learned to talk about people with “different abilities”; they participate in the #Paralympics; they play tennis and even dance. 

Two years ago, I saw a fashion exhibit with the woman in the wheelchair wearing a beautiful black dress. I was surprised, and then delighted, that she was included. It made me question my own assumptions about beauty, and about what “should” be shown in a fashion exhibit. I realized how my perception of people with differing abilities was largely influenced by images and the media.

Look at the photos in this graphic. The man in the wheelchair is alone, not shown with other people or doing any interesting activity. It leads me to feel sorry for him. I don’t stop to question how he is being presented. Contrast that with the following:

·  In the second image, 2 people with different abilities are having a drink with other people. Looks like they’re having a good time!

·  The third image is a doctor; the stethoscope and tie give him status.

·  The last image is of a man winning a race; that’s more than I can do!

I’m now more aware of how images influence my perception and my feelings.  I’m incorporating this into a workshop I’m designing on Implicit Bias.

I collect images to use in my workshop on Implicit Bias. Do you have any good images to share with me? Email me; thanks!

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