Let’s talk about disability.
It’s not a very pretty word, but it’s one of the only ones we’ve got to describe it.
The Oxford Dictionary defines disability as:
- A physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities.
- A disadvantage or handicap, especially one imposed or recognized by the law.
(Online Oxford Dictionary: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/disability)
Am I disabled? Yes. I have a laundry list of disabilities, but most of mine are considered “invisible” disabilities. What’s an invisible disability, you ask?
Invisible Disability, or hidden disability, is an umbrella term that captures a whole spectrum of hidden disabilities or challenges that are primarily neurological in nature.
(Disabled World https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/invisible/)
Disability is often included as an afterthought. Because legally it “has” to be included. Take, as an example, building a high-rise or, in the case of Queensland’s utter ridiculousness, a fleet of trains.
Queensland decided to buy a fleet of trains. However it was only after they received them, that anyone realised that perhaps it would be a good idea to comply with the Disability Act and retroactively make them disability compliant. It will cost them 150 million dollars. (Easton, S., 5th March 2018)
Surely it would have been cheaper to think of this beforehand? But this is how disability works. No one wants to talk about it, no one wants to see it. In fact, sometimes I think everyone would like all disabilities to be invisible. It’s the way people don’t know where to look when they see a person in a wheelchair (hint: at their eyes). The way people reach out to pet service dogs (seriously, who just pets a dog before they’ve been introduced? I don’t pet your kids!). And of course, it’s the way people find mental illness something they just don’t want to talk about.
Hey, over here! I’m talking about it!
There are some important facts to remember about disability that you should always remember:
- People with a disability are human. Please treat them the same way you would like to be treated.
- People with a mental illness are not crazy. We are not all violent. Mental illness is not an excuse for murder, mass shootings, or being an incompetent President.
- Please don’t pet service dogs. In fact, don’t pet any dog without asking its owner. The dog could be frightened of people, or be at work. As I said earlier – I do not pet your children – do not pet my dog. (And yes, I understand the difficulties of this because ALL THE PUPPIES, but just be courteous about it).
- If you don’t understand a disability, LEARN. Google is your friend. And you might find that by understanding it, you are less freaked out by it (but I don’t know why you would be – you can’t CATCH a disability. It’s not the flu).
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.