Understanding Invisible Disability

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Invisible disability (or hidden disability) is an umbrella term used to describe disabilities that are not immediately noticeable when looking at someone. The term applies to a wide spectrum of conditions including physical, mental and neurological disorders that impair daily functioning.

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When we think of disability, the first symbol to come to mind for many of us will be a blue figure using a wheelchair - an image otherwise known as the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA). Adopted as an international standardised symbol to indicate wheelchair-accessible environments, the ISA is now often used in a variety of settings to indicate a whole range of accessibility and disability-related issues. Where the ISA arguably fails, however, is in its representation of the broader disability community. For instance, among the 4.4 million Australians living with disability, more than 90% don’t look like the ISA at all.


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Ausmed’s editorial team is committed to providing high-quality, well-researched and reputable education to our users, free of any commercial bias or conflict of interest. All education produced by Ausmed is developed in consultation with healthcare professionals and undergoes a rigorous review process to ensure the relevancy of all healthcare information and updates to changes in practice. If you have identified an issue with the education offered by Ausmed or wish to submit feedback to Ausmed's editorial team, please email with your concerns.
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488 reviews by Ausmed Learners
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Portrait of Tracey Edwards
Tracey Edwards
01 Jun 2021
A good discussion and explanation of invisible disability.
Tim Quick
05 Jun 2021
Excellent reading.
Louise Bottega
02 Jun 2021
Ruby Arejola
16 Mar 2022
Certainly transferable tips and great recommendations for us nurses who interact not just with the affected patients but their carers as well
Stephanie Zippel
28 May 2021
Short message regarding hidden disabilities.
Portrait of Amanda Louise Cole
Amanda Cole
30 May 2021
Relevant and great read!
Debra Baker
01 Jun 2021
Portrait of Charles Albert Corfield
Charles Corfield
20 May 2022
Well put article
Barbara hattam
30 May 2021
this topic provides awareness to professional staff when that caring for people requires a non judgemental and empathetic approach.
Heather McQueen
30 May 2021
Good read
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