Disability Identity refers to the sense of identity, or the acceptance, as a person with a disability. This can encompass a disability of any kind, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional. Positive disability identity is not a term that people have heard of very often, but it is an important aspect of life to those who have a disability or those with loved ones who have a disability. For many years, people who have disabilities have been looked down upon, underestimated, or felt sorry for. And while people typically mean well when they have compassion for a person with a disability, it can often come across in the wrong way. It is important for people with a disability to feel a positive sense of identity in who they are as a person in relation to their disability. Here are some ways to help foster a positive disability identity for others.
Empathy is very different than pity or feeling sorry for someone. Empathy means that while you might not understand firsthand what someone is dealing with, you are able to show compassion and understanding towards them. Being empathetic towards others can mean that you simply listen to them when they want to talk and show kindness by not judging them for their disability.
Being supportive of people with disabilities can really go a long way in showing others that you are someone they can count on. Whether it’s helping someone with a task or helping them get involved in groups or activities with others who share their disability, being supportive is a great way to help others have a positive disability identity.
People who have disabilities might have different struggles than we do, but they also share a lot of the same struggles as well. Being real with those who have disabilities allows them to feel included and ‘typical’ when they often do not.
Using these tips to help someone you know who has a disability to develop a positive disability identity will not only benefit them but also you as well.