You need to be careful when attempting to define disabilities, assumptions can be careless and often unjust. Many disabilities are invisible, hidden, and not physically evident which is what International Day of Persons with Disabilities strives to convey and commemorate. Can you define what a disability is? It is not as simple as you may think.
This December, pay homage to those living with challenges, including physical and invisible disabilities. International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd provides an opportunity and platform to learn more about what others are experiencing.
A disability is typically defined as any condition that makes it more difficult for a person to do certain things. While broad, this includes cognitive, developmental, intellectual, mental, physical, sensory, or any combination of challenges, difficulties, or hurdles. These may be factors from birth or something that more recently manifests. Disabilities may be easy to spot, or invisible to the eye. Many disabilities may be aided and made easier with things like mobility aids or other adaptive devices.
Defining a disability is not as simple as you might think; here is what you should know:
The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) of 1990 defines someone with a disability as an individual with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities or that has a record or history of such an impairment. It may be easy to recognize an individual with a physical challenge, limitation, or disability. Sometimes it may be gleaned from the support, caregivers, or adaptive aids that the individual has with them.
Some individuals with physical disabilities may utilize devices and equipment, such as a wheelchair, walker, or cane which may make it easier for onlookers to identify. However, these aids are not exclusive to those with obvious physical limitations. Keep reading to find out more about individuals living with invisible disabilities.
It is easy to make assumptions regarding what is and is not a disability. For this reason, it may be more challenging to live with an invisible disability, than any other type of obstacle. Sometimes the judgment is made that the individual is not truly disabled despite the severity or symptoms suffered.
An invisible disability is not always evident to others visually, and some may or may not impede conventional work situations. Some living with these obstacles may work while others do not. Some examples of invisible disabilities include these:
- Chronic or debilitating pain
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Cognitive dysfunctions
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Learning differences
- Mental health disorders
- Hearing and/or visual impairments
Some invisible disabilities may range from mild to severe, requiring supportive care, while others may implement aids of some kind. Use empathy and try to not make assumptions regarding the abilities, capabilities, and appearance of others.
So, what kind of aids and devices would help someone with a disability, invisible or otherwise? There is a full range of equipment available, much of it offered by providers, practitioners, and occupational or physical therapists widely. Simple items like specialized cutlery or dressing aids (for example, reaching tools) can be just the right amount of assistance for individuals to complete ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) independently. This autonomy may enable many to maintain quality of life and age in place.
Mobility aids are often associated with the aged or those that have a physical disability. Wheelchairs and walkers point to physical limitations, but what other aids are available for consumers? Some of the most common and popular choices include these:
- Freestanding lifts
- Walkers, rolling walkers, knee walkers
- Wheelchairs and scooters
- Canes and walking sticks
- Grab bars and reaching tools
- Shower seats and benches
- Raised toilet seats
- Shower Buddies
One must be quite careful when assessing and assuming others for disabilities or limitations. Individuals with invisible disabilities like mental health, chronic pain, or vision impairment may not ‘appear’ to have any challenges, but looks can be deceiving. Always give others the benefit of the doubt and make spaces, spots, and sites accessible to all who use them. A slip, fall, and subsequent injury can be debilitating and life-changing for anyone but can put those with existing medical issues or disabilities at increased risk. Just as you do not want people assuming things about your overall health and well-being, be cognizant and courteous of those that may face distinct challenges when living their own lives, too.
Do you live with a disability, either visible or invisible? Pacific Mobility can help. Top-rated mobility aids and equipment can help increase accessibility, which in turn, can improve quality of life. We are a family-owned business with over 60 years in the industry. Come and talk with the mobility professionals today- for generations, our main objective is to serve the needs of our clients. Call or visit today!
President, Husband, Father, Grandfather Graduate of UC Davis- Bio Sci Major- Go Aggies! Jeff has extensive experience in all of Pacific Mobility’s products and services, and specializes in accessibility products as well as stairlifts, ceiling lifts and custom wheel chairs. His hobbies include spending time with family, gardening, mountain biking, exercising and off road motorcycle riding.
24 years as Owner/President of Pacific Mobility Center – selling, installing, and servicing stairlifts, porch lifts, ceiling lifts, pool lifts, handicap ramping, specialty wheelchairs, scooters, power wheel chairs, and other power mobility devices
Certified Environmental Access Consultant since 2008
Licensed General Contractor since 1998
Certified Aging in Place Specialist since 2016
Board Member for Home Access Professionals
Member of Association of Members of the Accessibility Equipment Industry (AEMA)