After my post on using accessible toilets with an invisible disability went viral with over 2 million views, I knew I had to harness this amazing audience and do something good with it and so after spending the week talking to people with disabilities all over the world and also Disability Charity Scope, I am over the moon to launch More Than Meets The Eye, a campaign for invisible disability awareness.
In the open letter to the woman who judged me for using accessible toilets, I wrote “I know you saw me running in, with my able bodied legs and all. You saw me opening the door with my two working arms. Without any visible sign of disability. My lack of wheelchair may have suggested to you that I was some lazy cow who didn’t care. You may have seen my face blushing as I caught your eye and assumed I was showing guilt at blagging the disabled loos. You tutted loudly.”
I’ve received THOUSANDS of messages from readers who have faced similar judgement from members of the public because of their own invisible disability. People with cancer, prosthetic limbs, autism, Tourette’s, brain disorders, bladder issues, partners with dementia and so many other issues… All saying the same thing.
That there is more to them than meets the eye. Their disabilities may not be visible at a glance but they are so real and they make their lives difficult at times. That not every disability requires a wheelchair and that using an accessible toilet or disabled parking space isn’t a luxury or a privilege, it is a necessity for them to lead their lives.
I have learnt so much from the people who have contacted me, I had a chat with amazing charity Scope and they agree that more needs to be done to raise awareness of invisible disabilities…
And so begins this campaign… #MoreThanMeetsTheEye is my way of making a stand for all the people who contacted me and for the millions around the world who live every day with an illness or disability that affects their lives but is unseen by others.
People with an invisible disability don’t want special treatment, but for society to be more aware that they exist, for everyone to think twice before judging someone who looks seemingly able bodies, and to be more compassionate and kinder to their fellow human. More Than Meets The Eye is a way to bring the discussion of Invisible Disabilities into the lives of everyone. To share real stories and explain how it is to live with an illness or disability that can’t easily be seen.
No one expects for the public to know about every single disability and illness but rather than immediately judging someone you see using accessible toilets or disabled parking, stop and remember there is a human being on front of you who may have many different issues that they shouldn’t have to explain to you.
I am sharing with you some messages I have received from readers of So Bad Ass. Please join me in sharing your own stories using #MoreThanMeetsTheEye or perhaps you can take a photograph naming your invisible disability or how you feel?
I will be doing a bit of blogging and writing for Scope in the coming weeks and really hope to raise their profile as they do a fantastic job at supporting people with disabilities as well as educating, raising awareness and working hard for equality.
This is an issue for millions, so many people are sharing their own stories of being judged, but I genuinely don’t think that all the ones doing the judging are nasty or mean people! I think they believe they are defending the rights of those who they think are entitled to use accessible toilets or disabled parking spaces. I have had so many telling me that they have been the person tutting but it is because they see someone seemingly able bodied and think they are helping.
The reality is that there are so many reasons why people need extra support and we all need to be more aware that invisible disabilities exist on so many levels and that judgment just makes lives more difficult.
Please take a look through some of the images below and take the time to read real quotes on how it feels to be judged for something that is beyond your control. The first one is from an email I received from a mum talking about her little girl.
“She was born at 26 weeks and had to have part of her bowel removed. We use disabled toilets and the disgusting glares and tuts we get are unreal. I refuse to explain my daughter’s complex health issues with strangers so they usually waltz off believing they’ve put the world to rights. In actual fact they’ve just made a disable little girl and her family much more anxious about going out.”
Read that and remember it the next time you see someone seemingly able bodied using an accessible toilet and think you are helping by telling them off…
Take a look through these quotes and I hope they will make a difference to the attitudes of society, I would love to see these printed in and around accessible toilet areas! Together we can make people realise that there is #MoreThanMeetsTheEye
For every person with an illness or disability that can’t be seen immediately, I want a brighter future, a happier future and a kinder and more compassionate future.
Please share and get involved, I am so overwhelmed at the viral attention and think we have got people talking, but we can go further with #MoreThanMeetsTheEye and actually make a difference worldwide!
You can share your own stories of Invisible Disability using #MoreThanMeetsTheEye on Facebook, twitter and instagram or share them with me through my contact page and I will display them on the More Than Meets The Eye Page here on So Bad Ass and on all my social media.
You can find me on twitter @so_bad_ass, Facebook and Instagram.
Let’s make a change and get people talking.