Spotlight Session: Bob Houser on looking at disabilities through a different lens

accessiBe News

We had an amazing conversation with Bob Houser in one of our accessiBeSpotlight Sessions, where we got insight into his inspiration for photography, and some of his most profound experiences with working with people with disabilities. Here are or key takeaways.

accessiBe Team

What if you could look at life through the lens of another person’s perspective? How do you think it would impact how you think about the challenges that they face? Bob Houser, the Founder of Facing Light, photographs people with disabilities and medical-related issues to spark awareness. His projects, Seeing Blindness and Facing Chemo, challenge people to imagine life with a disability or medical-related issues through photography. 

We had the pleasure of talking with Bob in one of our Spotlight Sessions, where we got insight into his inspiration and some of his most profound experiences with his work.

Here are some key takeaways from his interview: 

1. We need to look beyond the surface of disabilities 

“I don’t want people to see someone’s dark glasses or their cane or their dog. I want to see what it's like if people see just the people. Hence the name Seeing Blindness..”

Sometimes society defines people with disabilities as one-dimensional. It’s as if the disability becomes their entire identity. Bob’s mission is to redefine people with disabilities as multi-dimensional human beings with the same complexities as everyone else. 

2. People come face to face with their own experiences 

“And here these people had entire lives, one woman was in her 80s, and the picture that was up there was the picture we did together for the facing chemo project. And it was a big important part of her life.”

The work that Bob is doing doesn’t just open up other people to the reality of living with a disability or medical-related issue. It opens up the people being photographed themselves and reminds them, if even just for a moment, that they are worthy of being photographed. The moments in front of the camera create unforgettable experiences and having a picture to look back on leaves them with a reminder for the rest of their lives. 

3. A disability doesn’t define a person

“To me, there is just a person and that’s something I’ve learned early on. If I’ve photographed anybody the best way to talk to them is to just call them by their first name and forget everything.”

Person-first is more than just language. It’s how we show respect and maintain integrity for all people. Bob’s work reminds us not to judge or define a person by their disability or medical-related issues. We are all different regardless of our body’s shapes, sizes, limbs, and disabilities. We’re all just people.

4. Listening to people is crucial to understanding them

“You know some of the most simple ordinary folks going through whatever they’re going through, that’s a more interesting story in a lot of ways.”

Bob deeply values the conversations he’s had with so many different types of people through his work. These are the interesting and authentic experiences that make photography meaningful. He reminds us that the way we can show support is by not shying away from conversations with people that are different from us, but by listening and learning.

Shine on 

Our conversation with Bob reminded us how important it is to see past appearances and remember that we’re all still human beings, with or without a disability or medical condition. His photography work is showcasing the humanity that we all share. If you want to watch more of our Spotlight Sessions series, you can find them all here.

If you are a disability advocate or have a nonprofit organization and want to share your story with the world, contact accessiBe’s Nonprofit Partnership Program so we can get to know you better.