December 3 is the 28th anniversary of the UN’s proclamation of the International Day of People with Disabilities. This year’s theme, Not all disabilities are visible, focuses on increasing awareness about disabilities that are not immediately obvious.
It is estimated that 450 million people are living with a mental or neurological disability. These can take the form of anxiety, different degrees of hearing or visual impairments, chronic pain, learning disabilities or cognitive challenges. It is estimated that 69 million people sustain traumatic brain injuries each year and that one in every 160 children are somewhere on the autism spectrum.
Unfortunately, many of those who have invisible disabilities will not seek help due to stigma or the inability to access resources. Some people with invisible disabilities may deny that what they are experiencing is a disability. Likewise, for those who do seek help during this pandemic, resources may be reduced or eliminated as a result of COVID protocols.
It is up to all of us to try to help remove barriers for all types of disabilities at work as well as in our communities at large.