Gold Coast fitness guru Ashy Bines recently made headlines when she parked her car in a disability parking spot, later defending the move as acceptable because, “her gym has no members with disability”.
After a moment of disappointment, I considered Ms Bines’ statement and realised she is by no means alone in her assumptions around disability.
The reality is, many people still believe if a disability isn’t visible and obvious to the passer-by in the street, it doesn’t exist. And that’s a problem.
I don’t believe there was any ill-intent behind Ms Bines’ comments, but there is certainly an opportunity for her words to act as a catalyst for conversation, so we may all become more educated and informed.
The truth is, disabilities can be both visible and invisible. Disabilities are not black and white; even people with the same disability can have vastly different experiences. A disability can be something that a person lives with all day every day, or something that can affect them in different ways at different times.
Saying “no one here has a disability” is particularly problematic, especially as many people with invisible disabilities choose not to disclose for fear of becoming the object of damaging stereotypes.
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