Who has the power to define ability and disability in our world? Who decides what is "normal"?
These are questions that have guided my life and career as an inclusive practices advocate. Correspondingly, for a long time I have believed that we (should) have transcended past the terms of ability and disability. We all have strengths and weaknesses, things that we are better, and not as skilled at. In summation, in my mind, every life has great value and every human being has assets to present to the world, to share, to give and to love the world with.
One of my former Global Health Corps colleagues challenged me on the inclusion of disability as a category in this campaign, Kaylyn Koberna, to whom I owe many thanks. Despite my hopes that we have moved past disability as a nation, and as a world, the reality is that we are far from it. The the contrary, at times "moving past" definitions can create ambiguity that prevents us from having direct conversations about important topics. This is a similar trend to what we have seen with racial inequity and definitions of race in the US, which has been a particularly potent conversation in the past few months.
Here were Kaylyn's thoughts about including Disability, which she wrote in on the survey for 7 Dresses 4 Health:
"My first thought is that Disability (mental and/or physical) is an enormous and often unacknowledged health issue that can take a huge toll on communities and economies, especially in the developing world. After some curious Googling I just pulled this from the World Health Organization (WHO)":
- Over a billion people, about 15% of the world's population, have some form of disability
- Between 110 million and 190 million adults have significant difficulties in functioning
- Rates of disability are increasing due to population ageing and increases in chronic health conditions, among other causes
- People with disabilities have less access to health care services and therefore experience unmet health care needs
If Kaylyn's argument; coupled with statistics on disability from the World Health Organization, are not strong enough to include Disability as a category, I'm not sure what would be. On that note, I have chosen to start this campaign's conversation on disability by turning over the floor to Mary Bowers, who did a brilliant TedX talk at Ithaca College on her research on disability.
Call to action: Do you have important information around disability that you want to share with a wider audience? Do you or a loved one currently struggle with disability related issues? Do you work in research, advocacy, prevention, treatment or care? We want to hear from YOU! Write to us today: firstname.lastname@example.org to become a featured blog writer.
About today's look: All of the dresses for 7 Dresses 4 Health were designed and sown by Kim's Fashion Design. Love the look? Visit Kim at 100 Huntington Ave, Boston MA 02116, call her at (617) 267-9299 or email her: email@example.com. Mention 7 Dresses 4 Health for a special discount.
Campaign Update (2017): All 7 Dresses 4 Health blogs were migrated from a former site, so the sharing analytics are inconsistent from when they were first published. We apologize to our guest bloggers, and readers, for this inconvenience. That said, the campaign garnered an average of 5K hits per blog, over 500,000 readers throughout 2015! Additionally, the average number of shares per guest blog was over 150x on social media (through Facebook and Twitter). Thank you for making this incredible campaign possible - and for all that it was for so many. With gratitude, Marian & the ACI Team