The late comedian Stella Young coined the phrase “inspiration porn” to describe the act of calling people inspirational solely because of their disability. The US Paralympic team, with 22 gold medals to its credit so far, is doing quite well without the disability label.
This fine piece by the Ruderman Family Foundation offers a good perspective. And an earlier piece on Salon covered inspiration porn in sports. Positive sports images of disabled athletes that do not focus on the subject’s disability “normalize” disability, as a form of inclusion. Longtime disability advocate Andrew Pulrang had three criteria, among them focusing on the good deeds of able-bodied people rather than on the abilities of the disabled person. Another way of determining whether an article or image is inspiration porn is whether its meaning would change if one left out the disability.
Inspiration porn disrespects full inclusion and everything we as an agency stand for.