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Different is Normal – Photo campaign aims to show the normality of disability

Published 09 Jan 2020

A new photographic campaign aims to increase the visibility of persons with a disability by portraying them doing what they most enjoy in their everyday lives.

Commissioned by the Commission for the Rights of Persons with a Disability (CRPD), the campaign, ‘Different is Normal’, is a set of 12 individual photos of persons with various impairments engaging in activities such as dance, theatre, swimming, gymnastics, sprinting and bowling.

Other shots feature people working on their aspirations: one young man is studying to become a chef; others show everyday moments such as a mother playing with her daughter or a woman walking with her husband.

The photos, taken by award-winning photographer Darrin Zammit Lupi, move away from portraying persons with a disability as ‘victims’ or as ‘inspirational heroes’: they aim to show persons who happen to have a disability.

“The photos represent the passions and aspirations of these persons,” said CRPD Commissioner Oliver Scicluna. “Seen together, they are a celebration of diversity, moving away from the notion that disabled people belong to a binary category, specifically, as opposed to non-disabled.”

During the launch, His Excellency President George Vella said that the time of discrimination and stigma is long over and nowadays persons with different abilities are viewed as having acquired the rights which they used to be denied. “I would like to do away with the differences between those who refer to themselves as normal and persons with a disability.”

The Parliamentary Secretary for Disability and Active Ageing Anthony Agius Decelis said that the Commission’s photographic campaign is a good idea which forms part of government’s vision to remove the barriers in the disability sector and implement social inclusion.

In Malta, there are almost 20,000 persons with a disability registered by the Commission for the Rights of Persons with a Disability. Yet, disabled people are largely absent from images, TV, politics, leadership. While huge strides have been made, the images of disabled people in the public sphere are still largely invisible, with few persons with a disability taking an active role in public life.

The photos, which include a range of physical and learning impairments such as spina bifida, Down Syndrome, hearing and visual impairments, ADHD and autism, also aim to open a direct window on the lives of persons with a disability, putting their individual stories at the centre.

The Commission for the Rights of Persons with a Disability works to fulfill its mission of seeing that Maltese society is an inclusive one, in a manner that persons with disability can, through equal opportunities in all aspects of life, fulfil their potential as persons who enjoy a higher quality of life.

In honouring this commitment, CRPD works in order that society may eliminate any form of direct or indirect discrimination against persons with disability or their families while providing the necessary help and support.

“In a sense, then, part of our role is to render disabled people visible, helping to change perceptions around disability,” said the Commissioner.

View the photos on CRPD’s facebook page.

View more information on Different is Normal.