‘But you don’t LOOK disabled.’: Woman urges ‘disability is not a bad word’

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“Here are a few reasons why I changed my view on the word ‘disability’:

Disability does not have a ‘look.’ They can be visible and invisible, temporary or long-term. There is so much diversity in teh disabled community in age, gender, socioeconomic status, cultural heritage, and more. We should be careful trying to assign a certain look to having a disability because it undermines the challenges people face who may look ‘normal’ in regards to society’s standards. Often, people with more hidden disabilities are shamed in public places for utilizing necessary accommodations from passerby strangers. ‘But you don’t look disabled.’

The disabled community continues to fight for accessibility, representation and a seat at the table. The more we work as a collective team under the same name, the more we can accomplish. Using the word ‘disability’ also reduces the confusion and taboo of the term to use when referring to our community.

Challenging social stigmas of disability. Yes, I can mostly do everything anyone else can, and (not but) I do it differently. I may perform a task with different movements, numbers of steps, and time span than most people. This is not a bad thing though, to do tasks differently. I might even have something figured out better than a fully able-bodied person. In realizing this, we too can be a part of sharing the message of ‘different is good and beautiful.’ Disability isn’t just a word reserved for a small few.

Self-acceptance. I can speak to this one as someone who struggled with coming to terms with my differences and also through my lens as an occupational therapist. A patient told me last week she didn’t ‘feel disabled enough’ to use the mobility scooters provided at stores. She has significantly high levels of pain walking even short distances, and has a history of falls. She said she has used her crutches or just fought through the pain to avoid people looking at her for using the equipment she actually needs.

Disability is not bad. ‘Disability’ is not a bad word. Let’s work together to end these social stigmas.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Audrey. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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