The broader perspective of disability.

What do we define as disability? This question is simple with a variety of interpretations, most of which often overlook a particular subsection, invisible disabilities. According to, disability is defined as, “a physical, mental, cognitive, or developmental condition that impairs, interferes with, or limits a person’s ability to engage in certain tasks or actions or participate in typical daily activities and interactions.” Yet, a typical stereotype of what society considers disability has been molded into a severe impairment of daily activities. This usually constitutes a minimum of a loss of a limb, a sense (5 senses), or any phenotypical trait that severely inhibits normal functions without aid. However, we must incorporate invisible disability into our definition to brake this stereotype.

Invisible disabilities are/is disabilities that are not physically readily apparent. This causes many of us to derive to a conclusion that by visual observation an individual is physically, or mentally “fine”. This assumption can cause us to mold our definition into a pure phenotypical definition. Which can have a domino affect on us, and the people around us. Often seen throughout the military is a norm of “toughing it out”, or continuing until it is “broken”. These mindsets derive from the physical appearance definition of disability, without regard to the non apparent ones that would cause a long-term effect on the individual. This mindset is then passed on to new service members who build their definition on these core elements. If we continue to merely abide by the readily apparent definition of disability, we would continue to create a social norm that has a negative long-term effect on an individual’s health. This could then produce a butterfly effect of higher medical bills, financial hardship, worsening health conditions, and shorter lifespan.

One thing we as a society can do different is change our definition of how we view disability. Many progressive movements start with a change of perspective, and one way I plan to act is by raising awareness of its misinterpreted definition. Changing the perspective of my social circle is the start of a butterfly effect towards a more enlighten society. With this perspective people can be more aware of the variant forms of disability, and hopefully better shape their actions and dialogue to fit that broader definition.

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  1. Kevin, I totally agree with creating awareness and then changing our perspectives. For example, when people take the elevator for just one flight, I no longer get upset because I do not know if they have an invisible disability that does not allow them to go up or down the steps.

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