Special Interest Series: “Moms on Wheels,” in Honor of Mother’s Day

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PhotoAbility.net: Disability Inclusive Stock Image Gallery is offering a special Mother’s Day Photo Collection that depicts real life mothers who happen to have a disability. The hope is to encourage stock image buyers to include these types of inclusive imagery in their design, marketing and editorial projects.

Women from all around the globe are depicted with varying disabilities ranging from high level quadriplegia to walking with the assistance of braces and forearm crutches. These images are sure to challenge the public’s perceptions that women with disabilities may not be capable or able to have or take care of children. The images in the Photo Collection, and the women behind them, clearly tell a different story.

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Priscilla Hedlin, one of the featured moms in the photo collection, talks about the joy of being a mom and the misconceptions many have of her ability and her true reality. “I think one of the joys is when your little one wants to ‘help’ you. There’s nothing cuter than your 2-year old pushing you or wanting to help you down a step. People ask how I could possibly keep up. Well, my wheels move just as fast if not faster than your feet!” she exclaims.

All the moms featured feel it would be appreciated if advertisers acknowledged them enough to reflect their lives in their campaigns as well … and why not? “I take my kids to the grocery store, to eat at restaurants and play at the park just like other moms … ads need variety,” says Priscilla, whose blog Wheelchairmommy.com was founded both to relate to all moms and to share ideas and support with other moms on wheels. She has three children, ages 3, 6, and 9, and she homeschools them all, “though we are rarely home!” she says.

Mother with her children on a country trail

Another beautiful young mom featured in the series, Lori, who is a paraplegic, tells us what the gift of motherhood means to her: “There are few greater blessings in this life than the gifts of children and motherhood. Even to regain the ability to walk would not bring fulfillment in my life the way raising children does. Being a disabled mother of three boys with another one on the way can be challenging, but I am blessed to have children who take pleasure in helping make the tasks of my daily life a little easier.”

This sentiment is echoed by Teri, a C6-7 quadriplegic and recently divorced mom of a 4-year-old boy, who said, “The commonly held misconception … is that he is not mine, or that I did not have him as a woman in a wheelchair. I receive so much joy seeing how caring, helpful and patient he is and simply experiencing and appreciating life with him.”

PhotoAbility.net feels that powerful messages imparted through imagery will bring about important social change and increased access and rights. Its Stock Image Library represents over one billion persons with disabilities worldwide; whose spending power has a substantial impact on travel and lifestyle economies all over the world. Yet, this demographic is rarely seen or acknowledged in advertising and editorial images. The question is: Why is a small, yet powerful and growing segment of society not being seen or represented as customers?

It is important to increase the usage of positive imagery reflecting the real lives of mothers with disabilities, but also to encourage further inclusion. It will also help eliminate the fear and negative stereotyping that so often permeates all levels of society.

Unfortunately, it is these stereotypes that can have very real and negative effects on current and prospective mothers with disabilities. Adoption, custody, and legal rights can be infringed upon, with heartbreaking consequences. This series highlights the many examples of moms with all levels of physical disabilities that can and do provide safe and loving homes for their children. This photo series may begin to create awareness of just how these mothers creatively and intelligently accommodate their disabilities, to create environments where their children thrive.

“The big picture goal is about access,” says Deborah Davis, Co-Founder of PhotoAbility. Deborah sustained a spinal cord injury at 18 resulting in incomplete quadriplegia and is herself a mother of two girls. “While many of us have had wonderful experiences as mothers, and live in communities that have chosen to remove structural barriers and accommodate our needs, that is simply not something we can take for granted. These rights have not been afforded to so many in our world who are waiting for equal access and freedom to live full and productive lives.”

Deborah Davis

Deborah is a Speaker, Disability Inclusion Consultant, Entrepreneur, Writer and Business Owner of Wheelchair Lifestyle Enterprise Push Living Inc.

She was a Former Dancer, Accident Survivor (C 6-7 Spinal Cord Injury resulting in incomplete Quadriplegia 1985), College grad (BBA Finance 1991 U of Miami), with a background in Sales and Marketing and Non Profit Development and Management.

She is now embarked on new path creating a market for Disability Inclusive Stock Images with the creation of PUSHlivingPhotos.com and publishing an online enterprise: PushLiving.com. The mission is to create Inclusion for people with disabilities through stock images for advertising, marketing and editorial uses, providing accessible properties for travel, swap or purchase, publishing an online magazine for improved health and well-being, providing information and opportunities for Accessible Travel, and operating an online store with products that improve lives.

She is most passionate about building a network of people with disabilities who are empowering, supporting and creating a more inclusive world. Personally, she is a mother of two beautiful, wise and exceptionally bright young women, and residing in South Florida.

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