She's a character, she has opinions.

Survey on Invisible Illnesses and Hidden Disabilities & Identification Symbol

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Laura Brydges and Jennifer Martin bring their personal experiences of having disabilities together with more than 30 years of research and health communication expertise. They began a group last year on Facebook called “Hidden Disability” and now have launched an invisible illness and hidden disability survey that asks about hidden disabilities and the idea of an international symbol/wallet card. It is a secure and confidential English-language survey that will give adults everywhere their chance to share their opinions on some new disability issues.

Take the survey here.

I took the survey and realized that I am in no way interested in a wallet card with a hidden disability symbol on it. An informal symbol wouldn’t do anything to help me. I can’t figure out when I’d use this hidden disability symbol. Would I flash it at someone and tell them I need a place to take a nap? Would I pull it out and give a lecture about hidden disability to anyone who makes a sarcastic comment about my taking the elevator and not the stairs? Honestly, I don’t need a symbol to give that lecture.

I’m not sure I see a purpose to having a specific hidden disability symbol. There are disability symbols and though they are limiting in that they feature only a figure in a wheelchair, they are also widely accepted as to their meaning. Introducing another symbol would perhaps be unnecessarily confusing. I can go through official disability channels for needs such as parking passes, disability insurance, and accomodations, I’m included under that umbrella even though you can’t see my disabilities and I’d still need to go through those official channels even if I had a handy wallet card symbol.

I’m also super uncomfortable about the idea of differentiating disabilities in this manner. Are we also going to tag someone with a visible disability? Are we going to assume those people don’t need an ID because their disability is visible? If we do that, are we also assuming that every single person with a disability needs and wants the same types of assistance? Some people with visible illnesses don’t identify as disabled and don’t need or want assistance. Some do identify as disabled and do need/want assistance. The same goes for those with invisible disabilities/illnesses. I think the idea of an identification card is too simplistic and could actually cause more confusion and harm than it would help.

If other people don’t understand invisible disability that’s not my problem and it’s not something I can solve with a wallet card.

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Written by tldegray

September 29, 2010 at 11:19 pm

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