What comes to mind when you think of the word ‘disability’? Is it someone in a wheelchair, with a guide dog? These images pop up because they are easily visible and often what’s portrayed in the media.
People with invisible disabilities who are young or who look healthy are often accused of faking their condition or milking the system and must fight to have their challenges acknowledged
A study from the University of Sydney suggests that 90% of the 4.4 million people with disabilities in Australia are living with an invisible disability. 74% of those with a disability don’t use any aids to assist them… and I’m one of them!!!
Many people living with invisible disabilities are often questioned when using accessible parking or disabled facilities. This can often cause frustration and embarrassment as they are forced to defend and explain their illness – often to strangers! In reality, there are many chronic conditions that make movement both difficult and painful, so having this accessibility goes a long way.
It’s time to stop and think about the accessibility symbol and what it means, who it relates to, and whether or not it needs to be more inclusive.
The white icon of a person in a wheelchair set against a blue background is known worldwide as the universal symbol for disability. Found on toilet doors, painted onto parking bays and seen on public transport signage, the image is known as the International Symbol of Access (ISA) and indicates that a facility is accessible for those with disabilities, or solely for their use.
But is this icon of a person in a wheelchair inclusive? Designed by Danish design student Susanne Koefoed in 1968, many people now feel it should be updated to reflect people with “invisible disabilities” – those who are not in a wheelchair, whose condition cannot be seen or is discrete.
The most important thing is that it’s still recognisable as the ISA (International Symbol of Access). We know it is a highly effective symbol and we need to respect that, but it’s time for it to change and be more inclusive of those disabilities that can not be seen.
Today more than ever we need to advocate, educate and expand this all-inclusive community – which I’m now sure you would agree?! So, I implore you to join me and sign the petition