What are invisible disabilities?
Invisible disability, or hidden disability, is an umbrella term that captures a whole spectrum of hidden disabilities or challenges. Nearly one in two people in the U.S. has a chronic medical condition of one kind or another, but most of these people are not considered to be disabled, as their medical conditions do not impair their normal everyday activities. These people do not use an assistive device and most look and act perfectly healthy. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) an individual with a disability is a person who: Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment. Generally seeing a person in a wheelchair, wearing a hearing aid, or carrying a white cane tells us a person may be disabled. But what about invisible disabilities that make daily living a bit more difficult for many people worldwide Invisible disabilities can include chronic illnesses such as renal failure, diabetes, asthma, and sleep disorders if those diseases significantly impair normal activities of daily living. For example, there are people with visual or auditory impairments who do not wear hearing aids or eyeglasses so they may not seem to be obviously impaired. Those with joint conditions or problems who suffer chronic pain may not use any type of mobility aids on good days, or ever. Another example is Fibromyalgia which is now understood to be the most common cause of chronic musculoskeletal pain. Many people living with a hidden physical disability or mental challenge are still able to be active in their hobbies, work, and be active in sports. On the other hand, some struggle just to get through their day at work and some cannot work at all.
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