Get notice of new posts
Connect with me!
Help Support Our Climb
Damn Fine Words Writing Course

Socially Constructed Attitudes| What do you see?

follow the arrow from A-Z

What do you see?

Every day businesses and community groups try to influence us with logos and symbols.

Did you ever look close–really close–at some of these logos? Sometimes there are hidden messages.

How many times have you seen the Amazon logo?

Have you ever noticed the A-Z arrow? I didn’t.

Could this be a visual cue saying, “You can purchase everything from A to Z”? Not just books.

Business logos and commercials dominate the social media and we often take them for granted. But no doubt about it, they influence our attitudes.

Baskin Robbins

See the 31 flavors?

What’s your first impression?

What’s your second impression?

Baskin Robbins’ logo reminds us they have 31 different flavors of ice cream—can’t you just taste the butter pecan and chocolate chip?

Are you surprised the number 31 is right there in front of you?

Did you notice?


See 2 people sharing a tostito?

Mexican flag colors, right.

But there is a whole scene right in the middle of the logo.

Do you see two people?

They are sharing chips and between them is a table with a cup of salsa.

Now that you are aware, will you notice the embedded image on every Tostito bag of chips?

Will you tell your friends?

Your actions are helping to socially construct the meaning of their logo, the meaning of Tostito’s brand–Friend to friend.

Tour de France

See the bike? Guy in yellow Tshirt?

The most famous bike race in the world, The Tour de France logo shows an action shot of a man on a bike.

See it? The R is a man bent over the yellow wheel of a bike.

What emotions do you feel?

Bet the marketing company spent hours researching the color of the t-shirt including study groups on whether the best color was blue, red or yellow.

Perhaps this ad was donated or created by a student…or a giant ad company on Fifth Avenue.

Wolf Wolfensburger spent years teaching us to be thoughtful about the images, logos and symbols we use when we market our agencies and companies that worked with people with disabilities.

He spoke of the social construction of knowledge–we are what others say we are:

“Impairment is a normal part of life. Disability is not. That is caused by our attitudes towards people who have impairments. It’s about time we accepted that wholeheartedly. Doing so is good for people who are disabled, for community and for the planet.”

Final Question: What do you see?

What do you see?

(Martha Perske, artist)

As parents and caregivers of adults with disabilities, every day we send out messages to the world.

Our neighbors, our relatives, our children and our community are watching and learning. They are socially constructing what they see based on their experiences.

Are we spreading the message that people with disabilities over 18 years old are adults—NOT children?

Are we marketing our services in unhuman images of angels, devils, elves, giants in our company names and logos?

Does a group of people with autism walking in a store blend in, or do they draw attention to themselves?

Are adults with disabilities seen as capable employees, volunteers, contributing citizens?

Or do community members see them as needy–asking for charity, or pity?

Are we promoting inclusion and normalization?

Are we teaching others what they see? how to understand?

If this was a business, what would our logo look like and what would be the embedded message?

How are we socially constructing our environment, our world?

Your Turn:

Please share your ideas and thoughts. What message do we send on TV? in the community? What message in our personal life? What do you wish would happen?

Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward

All my best,


Related Posts:

What is normalization?

Perske| Hope for the Families

The Race toward Inclusion| Do you see it?

Be Sociable, Share!

22 Responses to “Socially Constructed Attitudes| What do you see?”

  • I enjoy the fact that you pointed out the hidden messages in the advertisements. I find this very clever of the companies. I find it true that people with disabilities are adults at 18. However, I know far too many cases where people are treated just like children.

    • Mary says:

      These logos were real surprises to me. And, people with disabilities have so many hidden talents and gifts–they are like a treasure hunt. You’re right Courtney, they do often get treated like children. I hope you and the next generation will be able to share their secret identities!

  • Nuriya Gavin says:

    When I look at this picture by Martha Perske I finally see a good media depiction of people with disabilities. Multiple ages, ethnicities and disabilities. All seeming happy and content with themselves not needing pity or asking for mercy. I think this is one of the most realistic viewpoints illustrated of disabilities within the United States.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      HI Nuriya, I’m glad you like the picture. I’ll pass that on to Martha and her husband Bob. Bob Perske has a couple articles on this blog. And, Martha has a couple more pictures. Check them out.

  • Katie Vitucci says:

    I have seen an article showing the hidden messages within logos before but I have never thought about it from a personal standpoint. Maybe people with disabilities are showing us everything that we need to know about them but we are so blinded by their appearances. I think that if we were able to take a little more time to look past the disability that a person has, we would likely be more accepting of who they are and we would get to know them on a more personal level.

  • I think the things we see on TV definitely contradict themselves. One commercial can be advertising the spread of equality and treating everyone with respect, however then the station switches back to the show your watching which can be promoting hatred and disgust towards people who may be different than you (which I hope no one watches these kinds of things, but in reality some do). Also, seemingly “good” advertisements wanting to raise money and awareness for individuals with disabilities in actuality make people with disabilities seem helpless and unable to do anything for themselves. TV has a way a doing good, but also doing bad. It often groups individuals with disabilities together with a label, when people should just regard them as people, just like everyone else.
    In my personal life I know many people with disabilities and while I’m aware of their disability, I know as my friends and peers rather than “my acquaintance with a disability”. I also went to a public high school where kids with disabilities are mainstreamed into regular classroom settings and I had zero problems ever with it. I know sometimes its hard to look past a disability, however I just wish everyone in society could see past small differences in people and not let these things define them as human beings. Even things such as homosexuality and race need to not be thought of when you first meet a person. In our imperfect society, finding equality for individuals with disabilities, unfortunately and just like everything else, may take years and years of progress to come.
    Madison Jasper recently posted..Dream Plan for Aaron: 1981 (Part 1)

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      It’s terrific that you know some people with disabilities just as friends and peers. Perhaps the experiences of mainstreaming helped you get to know them. And you are right Madison, equality will always be a long struggle and the media helps and hurts us along the way.

  • Katherine Schmittou says:

    I had never once thought that there was more to those logos other than eye-catching colors or a fun font. This relates to the fact that many people look at individuals with disabilities and don’t see everything they are capable of. I wish that more people, teachers, & employers could see that many people with disabilities are capable of so much more than what their environment allows them to do. Then maybe the people with disabilities could bring something new that people without disabilities lack.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      You’re right Katherine, it’s all about us seeing with new eyes and seeing the possibilities. Logos and Names are important–they send messages intended or not. i.e. Like a certain CSD –couldn’t it just be Communication, Speech Department? instead of focusing on the deficit? We’ll have to think more about this.

  • Sophie Roos says:

    This was a very interesting blog post. I love discovering the hidden messages in logos and some of the logos you listed were ones that I did not realize their hidden meanings. I think the line that most stood out to me in the post was where you mentioned that 18 year olds and older are adults. Too often people treat people with disabilities like they are children which is wrong and unfair for them to do. A 21 year old should be treated like a 21 year old no matter their cognitive ability. This is true of all ages.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      Each time I see the Logos I think of different things. They really are hidden agendas in our world. You are right Sophie, adults are adults–it doesn’t depend on mental age at all.

  • Marissa White says:

    This article was very interesting! I didn’t even notice the hidden messages in some of the logos until you pointed them out!

    Some people don’t look deeper into the meaning of things. Just like how to understand or act around those with disabilities. The illustration was a great point that we can never tell if someone does or does not have a disability just by looking at them. People with disabilities come from all ages, backgrounds, and races. More people need to understand that those with disabilities can maintain jobs, families, and have responsibilities regardless of their disability.

    You did a great job at conveying this message!

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      If you are like me, now you will be looking for hidden messages in logos. It’s like a secret club. 🙂
      We each have hidden messages. I think people with disabilities just have a harder time letting others see their inner beauty. Thanks for your comment Marissa.

  • Andrew Depoe says:

    The article “What do you see?” has a very meaningful title. Some people see one things while others see something completely different. Without properly knowing the meaning behind the images, people will still become obvious to certain marketing strategies. The question that got me thinking was the one talking about how people with disabilities that are 18 or older are still looked at as children. The sad thing is that I know that happens. I have seen people “baby” someone with a disability and treat them like children when they should be treated like the adults they are.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      HI Drew,
      It’s funny how you see some of these logos all the time and never see the hidden images. Just like people, we really have to look to see what is going on. Now that you know about the “baby thing” you’ll be able to take corrective action and treat them like an adult. That is the beginning of social change.

  • Paige Gieske says:

    The questions asked in “What do you see?” brought up some good points. They make you realize that people with disabilities still need to be respected and treated the same as any other person. I liked how it said that an 18 year old person with a disability is considered an adult; they are not a child so they shouldn’t be treated like one. This reflection also made it obvious that it is the job of a parent, and also anyone else, to spread the message that everyone needs to be treated equally. It is right in saying that children learn how to respond to certain situations based off of experiences; therefore, parents, for example, need to be good role models.

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      Parents and Professionals have a tough job being good role models. You are right about that Paige. Hopefully we are changing how a person with a disability is seen by the world. Then expectations will be raised and adults can be adults.

  • Wow, Mary, this is amazing. I think it’s your best post yet! I have never noticed any of those messages in the logo (which makes me think how effective they are.)

    First I saw a child with Downs Syndrome, amongst a clutch of people and then *because you told me to look* I noticed different ages, ethnicities, genders. Fascinating!
    Alison Golden – The Secret Life of a Warrior Woman recently posted..26 Unusually Insightful Points of Uncommon Wisdom

    • Mary E. Ulrich says:

      Alison, I can always count on you to understand the message. If we really achieve inclusion, then we will all blend in and “disability” will not be a big deal.

      I don’t think many people stop and notice everyone who wears glasses, or people who use curb cuts–I think they are now part of our social consciousness as just necessary for some people. Hopefully, we can achieve that same acceptance in other accomodations and modifications.

      We choose what we see–and don’t see. And that makes all the difference.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge