Did you know that today is International Day Of Persons With Disabilities? It is a day to ask, what more do I need to better understand disability issues, and support the rights and wellbeing of individual with disabilities.
This years theme is "Not All Disabilities Are Visible", and if you have followed me for any length of time, you know this is my wheelhouse. Maybe I am one of or the only person you know and have heard speak openly about their invisible disability. Maybe you too are someone with an invisible disability. We all come to this issue with different experiences and levels of knowledge. And that is okay, we can all still learn and be better.
Not all disabilities are visible or obvious and can include "mental illness, chronic pain or fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, diabetes, brain injuries, neurological disorders, learning differences and cognitive dysfunctions, etc." In my case my brain injury, Bertha, affects my physical and mental well-being so profoundly that I have had to prematurely leave a valuable career as an ICU nurse, and educator, lost the ability to be a big part of my pre-injury self and now live a fairly isolated and restricted life to maintain my health. But you couldn't tell that from looking at me...you couldn't guess at the different challenges I face.
It is important to know that 4 out of every 5 people with a disability have an INVISIBLE disability. Read that again; 80% of all disabilities are invisible. To put it in context, the WHO World Report on Disability tells us "15 per cent of the world’s population, or more than 1 billion people, are living with disability."
I share this because the majority of disabled individuals don't fit society's biased/limited idea of what disabled looks like. As well, society's tendency to ignore a disabled persons lived experience, adds even more barriers/inaccessibility to our lives. And the cost is not just the price of societal "stigma, discrimination and neglect" on our well being.... unexamined prejudices & beliefs about disability mean the world loses out on the benefit that would come from inclusion and valueing of 15% of the world population.
We have great worth