Visible vs. Invisible Disability

Often when we speak about disability most of us have a mental image of someone who appears visibly disabled. They may be using a wheelchair, or a walking stick or other visible support equipment. Our understanding of disability is very much based on the visualization of what we think disability should look like or have been led to believe looks like.

In most societies disability is very much made invisible. Meaning that we do not often see people who are disabled in our mainstream media. They do not appear in our movies, favorite shows or commercials.

A disability can be a short term condition or a lifelong debilitating one. Invisible disabilities are those which are not clearly or immediately apparent. Invisible disabilities can involve chronic pain, mental illness, chronic fatigue, dizziness, cognitive dysfunction, brain injuries as well as hearing and vision impairments. However, invisible disabilities can be physical, mental or neurological conditions.

Invisible disabilities may include chronic illnesses such as renal failure, diabetes, and sleep disorders are diseases that significantly impair normal activities of daily living.

Irrespective of how a disability may ‘look’ we must never associate it with being weaker or less capable. We also need to unlearn the toxic practice of viewing disability as a only a physical issue. We need to realize that many people, who go about their daily life and achieve wonderful and amazing things, suffer from invisible disabilities.