Fairness in Depictions of Disability

Case Study: Don Bosco Mission Bonn


The Escuela Laura Vicuña is a school for children and teenagers with disabilities that is supported by the Don Bosco Mission. Fairpicture was approached to find freelancers who could portray the everyday life of two students at school and with their families in a way that fairness in representation. The images were to be used primarily for a Don Bosco fundraising letter, encouraging the viewer to give a donation supporting projects like the school. 


Don Bosco Mission


October 2021

Visual creator

Tamara Merino


Chile, Los Lagos


Children with special needs


For people from populations who are systemically mistreated and misrepresented, informed consent is essential.


Fernanda (14, name changed) was only able to attend classes virtually for the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. With her Down’s Syndrome, her parents feared that she would contract with COVID-19 at school and that it would be dangerous. Fernanda wasn’t enjoying online classes and, at the point this image was taken, was looking forward to going back to physical school with her friends.

©Tamara Merino/ Don Bosco Mission/ Fairpicture

Images and Research for their Editors

Don Bosco required two photographic stories showing the school’s children with their therapists, teachers and parents. Additional text provided by the visual creator was to be the basis for the text prepared by the Don Bosco editors in Germany.


Project Context

The children and teenagers who attend the Escuela Laura Vicuña primarily come from economically disadvantaged families and some have indigenous heritage. The school's goal is to support the children with the necessary therapies and education, so they can have more independence in adulthood. To facilitate this, the school works closely with companies to prepare the students for future work options.

Juanita (14, name changed) paints in her notebook during break time. Her classmate Carlo (15, name changed) suffers from cri-du-chat syndrome. Holding Any Muñoz's hand gives him confidence.

©Tamara Merino/ Don Bosco Mission/ Fairpicture


Thank you very much for sending us the photos. We looked at them yesterday and are thrilled!

Kirsten Prestin, PR Officer, Don Bosco Mission Bonn


Tomás (17, name changed) lives with his father in a house made of corrugated iron and wood. They cannot heat the room they live in. The walls are poorly insulated with egg cartons.

©Tamara Merino/ Don Bosco Mission/ Fairpicture

Simple collaboration in a busy environment

For disabled people, their families and their support systems, it is not self-evident that they will be treated with respect in media. Having a production can also be incredibly stressful for a school, yet Don Bosco and the families involved found the collaboration with Tamara and Fairpicture to be simple and supportive. The images and stories were used for a fundraising campaign, as well as in the Don Bosco digital magazine. 


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