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The 'Superpower' I Never Wanted as a Person With a Disability

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Becoming disabled means accepting a superpower or two. You know, like X-ray vision,  telepathy and spoon bending. I, however, haven’t gained any of these famous comic book inspired superpowers. Mine is much less exciting — invisibility.

I never fancied the superpower of invisibility, or even owning an invisibility cloak, but it’s a fact of life now that I’m severely sight-impaired and using a wheelchair. I’m invisible. I can’t tell you whether it’s the blindness or the wheelchair that makes me invisible but my daughter Rachel (wise beyond her years) thinks it’s probably just being disabled that does it.

I know what you might be thinking. I must be on about the fact that I can’t get out of the house much anymore, so I’m literally invisible in society. Yes, there’s that great annoyance, but I’m being more abstract in my thinking. You see I’ve come to realize that I have become invisible because it seems no one thinks about what it’s like to be disabled.

I feel I’m invisible to businesses. I’m invisible to charities. I’m invisible in the media. I’m invisible in social groups. I’m invisible in sports clubs. I’m invisible in music venues. I’m invisible in churches. I’m invisible in government.

I’m invisible in society.

I’m not sure what’s at the root of this invisibility; it might be lack of awareness or understanding or financial concerns or ignorance or laziness. Whatever it is has to be brought out into the open and seen for what it is. It is not funny. It is discrimination.

It makes no business sense to make such a large proportion of society invisible. Why not make your premises accessible and positive for disabled people?

It should be something to be ashamed about when you fail to follow disability discrimination laws by not thinking about disabled people and what they need to be made welcome.

Come on, society, stop giving me a superpower I don’t need. I’m not invisible!

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Originally published: February 5, 2017
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