Invisible impairments
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Paralympian Kadeena Cox talks about invisible impairments on IDPWD

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Scope community team

Paralympian Kadeena Cox did an interview with ParalympicsGB for International Day of Persons with Disabilities. 

You can read the full interview here, but I've picked out the sections on what having an invisible impairment means to her, what challenges she's faced, and what advice she'd give to others.

The 2020 International Day of People with Disabilities theme is ‘Not all disabilities are visible’ – what does that mean to you?

I think it’s really hard for people to understand invisible disability. I have a lot of neurological pain, fatigue, brain fog and issues with my bladder and those are the parts of disability not everybody sees because you are not in a wheelchair or visibly missing a limb. People just make an assumption that you have to see a disability which is a misconception of what a disability can actually be.

What are the challenges of living with a hidden disability and what advice would you give to others?

From the point of view of someone who is non-disabled I would say just be open and don’t make assumptions. People being receptive to the fact that somebody might still need your help even if you can’t see a disability. Don’t think if you can’t see it – it’s not there.

For disabled people I would say don’t be offended by people’s lack of understanding take it as an opportunity to educate. I believe there’s beauty in an opportunity when someone says I am not disabled I can explain to them that not all disabilities are visible and that can be a lightbulb moment for them and they can share it with family and friends.

What makes you Impossible to Ignore?

I am challenging the norms – wanting to try and get more opportunities for people with disabilities, to get us in to the media so people really understand and see us as athletes rather than athletes with disabilities.

I am also the first black person to ever win a gold medal for British Cycling across non-disabled and disabled athletes. I am trying to create more diversity and equality and be a role model for people – open the doors and show people that we are able to do absolutely anything.
Can you relate to Kadeena's experience of people making assumptions? Do you agree that non-disabled people's lack of understanding should be seen as an opportunity to educate? What advice would you give to someone else with an invisible impairment? 
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