By Linda Williams, Ph.D. & Monica Slabaugh / Invisible Disability Project
1. Canceling Plans
It happens. Invisible disabilities may be unseen, but they aren’t unfelt or unreal. They are, however, unpredictable. One moment, our body tell us game on; and the next, it’s curled up on the sofa, and it’s not going anywhere today. Bodily and neurodiversity need flexible structures, allies, and partnerships. Go with the flow.
2. Accessibility? That’s a Thing Now
Asking about accessibility may not always have been front and center on our minds. But now, it is. And if it’s not on yours, it should be. It is part of the everyday language we use, and exists in the social world around us. It’s not a formality. It’s not about following a rule. It’s equitable, and it’s the right thing to do. Public and social spaces may not be built for all bodies and all people. But all bodies and all people have a right to exist in the world as they are. So check in about accommodations often, ok?
3. Calling out Ableism
We know able-bodied privilege is real, and it’s everywhere. Body privilege is strong and pervasive, and it can momentarily make someone forget (or ignore) the fact that they coexist with diverse bodies and minds. Intentional or not, ableism rears its ugly head all the time, and we’ve got to call it out. Our health and our identities are at stake, so be real with your allies. That’s how we shape a new culture.
4. Pause and Ask. Sometimes that’s enough
When something just doesn’t seem right, it’s easy to jump for the low hanging fruit: the social biases like laziness, failure, lack of motivation, unproductivity, selfishness. Slow down. Pause, and ask, “is there something unseen going on?” When we pause, we release those biases, and we create a safe environment to have a conversation. This conversation is mutually consensual, and the person disclosing feels safe to say as much or as little as necessary to provide information, form a bond, or gain greater intimacy in the relationship that is meaningful.
Dr. Linda Williams is a licensed clinical psychologist who combined disability activism, entrepreneurship with a social vision to found, Invisible Disability Project (IDP), a B Corporation and social/cultural movement that consciously disrupts “invisibility” imposed upon unseen impairments at the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality. IDP is devoted to building human connections and self- advocacy by dismantling shame and stigma. IDP effects change through educational films, public conversations, and interactive online content with the goal of creating an informed, mutually supportive community.
Monica Slabaugh is Chief Curator at Invisible Disability Project (IDP), a B Corporation and social/cultural movement that consciously disrupts “invisibility” imposed upon unseen impairments at the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality. She is a visual artist and recent graduate of Indiana University.