The Oxford, English dictionary, defines the word disability as a “physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities”. You are probably wondering why I am stating the definition as I am writing a blog for the PACE website. I feel sometimes for those of us who do not have a disability, lose sight of what it means to have a disability. A large number of people believe that a physical disability that you can visualize is what defines a disabled person. When the truth is by the dictionary’s own definition it can be unseen as well.
Many of us do suffer from some form of disability. I feel it’s a matter of how we look at it. I know for myself and some of my friends we see ourselves as disabled only in certain settings. We don’t always see ourselves as disabled at work, or at home. But the moment we go to the grocery store, or find ourselves in a public setting we do. At our jobs and our homes have been adapted to our disabilities to make our lives much easier and more independent.
When a person has a disability that is unseen it can make navigating the world a little more complicated. They find themselves being judged from the moment they get out of their car. They could be told “you can’t park here because you do not look like you have a disability”. Even though they have a disability placard to prove they are able to park in the correct spot.
In many situations navigating a non-disabled world can be hard. Not enough ramps due to companies not understanding the need for them. Your friends and family planning events that are not always accessible for you to attend. The list is endless why it’s hard to navigate this world that isn’t built for us.
Here I am in my early 40s and getting my first disabled placard. I never thought I would ever need to get one until much later in life. Between nerve pain that radiates through my leg to the PTSD and anxiety I ended up needing one. Standing for long periods due to my nerve pain becomes unbearable at times. When you look at me, I do not show the pain, I do not walk with a cane or any assistance, I look like I am not disabled, when the truth is I am.
All of this goes back to the definition. Where physically and mentally you are limited to what you can do. Remember no matter if it is a seen disability or an unseen one, always advocate for yourself during those times. During the times you get questioned about your disability. It’s no one’s business what you have and it’s your choice to disclose what