A government minister accused the advertising industry yesterday of ignoring disabled people and treating them like "poor relations".
Maria Eagle, minister for Disabled People, accused firms of assuming that "disability doesn't sell" and of ignoring a potential market worth £45bn.
She said it was "surprising that advertisers haven't yet woken up properly to the value of the disabled pound".
"For too long disability has been the image advertising forgot. At the heart of this, I'm sure, is a misapprehension that disability doesn't sell," she told an audience of advertising agencies and government marketing departments.
There are 8.6 million disabled people in the UK, but they rarely feature in adverts for mainstream products.
Groups representing disabled people welcomed her comments and said it was foolish of advertisers to ignore such a big market.
"Most people know someone who is disabled, whether it be a friend or a relative. We are part of your lives," said Alan Kerr of Disability Action in Islington. "Many disabled people are on limited incomes, but there should be more representation in campaigns."
Stephen Woodford of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising acknowledged that more work needed to be done.
"The advertising industry needs to be more representative of the UK population both in what it does and how it recruits," he said.