This Thursday, 3 December is International Day of People with Disability, a day to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability, and celebrate their achievements and contributions.
Exploring the theme - Not all disabilities are visible
From a support worker’s perspective
When broaching the topic of disabilities there is a sub-section where the nature of it is hidden and it can be misconstrued and even be subject to discrimination.
Elissa, a support worker, whom within her family has a son with autism and a sister with MS. We asked Elissa, “What does the term ‘you don’t look disabled’ mean to you?”
“This kind of attitude can be very confronting to somebody with a hidden disability, and if they can’t explain themselves or they don’t feel like it, it can be very intimidating,” explained Elissa. From a supported person’s perspective “It’s also very apparent that people need to be more patient with each other and there are some great examples of people whom have a disability that you would never have guessed or have never let it affect their life and career,” said Kate, who is a person supported by Melba.
For example, Jamie Oliver is a world famous chef with a restaurant empire however has had dyslexia his whole life, and was mocked at school for needing special attention with his academics. Another example is Ashley Fiolek a dirt bike racer who has won the American Motocross Women’s title four times who is both incredible and who is deaf with a great sense of humour as her bike is adorned with a sticker that says, ‘Honk all you want I’m deaf!’ From a community member’s perspective
Jessica, a community member, reflected on her own experiences especially when it comes to things such as parking spaces or toilets. When asked, she believed she has been guilty of making a snap judgement or assumption on someone when she should have been more open-minded. In fact, Jessica admitted this to Elissa and asked how can we change this common perception: Where do we start? Are we doing enough to support others as a community? Elissa chuckled, “We could change the disability symbol.” Elissa then continued, “For example, not everybody with a disability is in a wheelchair.”
Although there’s a lot to say on general public awareness changing through education, understanding and patience; there’s also a thought that maybe we need to change the symbol as well. Respect for others isn’t visible, but it’s certainly something we can all practice.
Please feel encouraged to:
Share messages of inclusion and diversity and of ‘seeing the ability in disability’ through online and social media channels using the hashtag #DisableStereotypes
Access some fantastic resources on the official website, to help you, or your workplace get involved: www.idpwd.com.au/get-involved