3rd December 2020 is International Day of People With Disabilities. This year’s theme is ‘Not all Disabilities are Visible’ and focuses on spreading awareness and understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent, such as mental illness, chronic pain or fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, diabetes, brain injuries, neurological disorders, learning difficulties and cognitive dysfunctions, among others.
These are just some examples of what can be experienced by the millions of people currently living with a disability that is not immediately apparent, and a reminder of the importance of removing barriers for all people living with disability, both visible and invisible.
Raising awareness of hidden illness and disabilities has become even more important to me in recent years. Along with many years of specialising in special needs education, now I also have the benefit of knowing life with and without hidden disabilities and the issues that surround them. There is nothing I find more rewarding than speaking to people of all ages about hidden illness and disability, witnessing how their thinking begins to change as they think back to events may have been a barrier to someone they know and being able to make suggestions as to how they can help reduce or remove barriers.
Please remember, illness or disability, hidden or otherwise, doesn’t mean that individuals are any less able. Some of the greatest achievements have come from individuals with disabilities. If you need proof of this check out the film Rising Phoenix on Netflix.