Not all disabilities are visible – in fact most aren’t! People with invisible disabilities face all the same barriers as people with obvious disabilities, but compounded by the lack of obvious impairment.
Attitudinal barriers, in particular, are rife – with well-meaning members of the public interrogating people who don’t seem to have a disability (for example, are not in a wheelchair) about using a disabled parking space or toilet. Confronted like this, people with invisible disabilities are forced to declare their disability to total strangers, or argue their case – often in a public space. The humiliation often leads people to fear going out in public, resulting in isolation.
To celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we invited Lynn Russell, CEO of Invisible Disabilities Australia and Sarah Bayley, Senior Manager, Complex Services at ermha365 to talk about the challenges faced by people with invisible disabilities, some solutions to help avoid the need for public declarations, and some tips on how we can all improve our behaviour around this issue.
For more information:
Invisible Disabilities Australia - https://www.invisibledisabilities.com.au/about/
ermha365 NDIS services - https://www.ermha.org/ndis-services/
This page of the ermha365 website also contains a short video with stories and statistics around the challenges of some types of invisible disabilities, including mental illness, traumatic brain injuries, autism, learning disability and intellectual disability, and five simple tips we can all follow to support people with invisible disabilities.