#AnyDisability – making invisible symptoms visible
The symbol aims to more accurately represent the full range of people with various disabilities who use accessible facilities.
We are joining Martin Whitfield, the MP for East Lothian, and his constituent Grace Warnock, aged 14, to raise awareness and speak up for people with MS.
How Grace used her experience to front the campaign
Grace lives with Crohn’s disease which means she experiences hidden symptoms, like many people with MS.
A couple of years ago, Grace was accosted and shouted at simply for trying to use an accessible toilet. She used her experience to design ‘Grace’s sign’ and campaign to remind people that not all disabilities are visible.
Since then, she has adopted the new inclusive #AnyDisability symbol designed by StudioLR for her campaign. (The symbol design project was funded by Life Changes Trust.)
Now, we are standing up for people with MS and working with Martin to take this logo to Parliament and looking to make it the British Standard – eventually replacing the current image.
Jessie was refused entry to a disabled toilet
Unfortunately, Grace’s story is not unique. Our supporter Jessie Ace had a similar experience:
“I was once refused entry to a disabled toilet by a bouncer. All of the toilets in this place were downstairs and I’d been walking around all day so I couldn’t go downstairs. He said ‘you look fine to me so I don’t see why I should let you in’.
I asked him if he wanted to see my disabled badge. Eventually he let me in but he was making jokes out of it, saying things like ‘I let you in this time but I might not be so kind next time.'
It makes you feel like a fraud, like you are cheating the system. It really is unfair. I don’t understand why we should be discriminated against, the lack of public education goes against us.”
Working with politicians to create change
People with MS like Jessie shouldn’t be forced to explain their disability - whether when using accessible toilets, blue badge parking spaces or taking a seat on public transport. That is why we are supporting this campaign.
Martin Whitfield, MP, said: “I was incredibly proud to help launch this symbol in parliament over the summer and in the process achieve the support of over 50 MPs who are backing the campaign. We want to see this new signage spread right across the UK, inside buildings, outside toilet facilities, transport hubs and on government literature.
The MS Society are doing incredible work, fighting for the treatment, services and care of those with MS in the UK. They also recognise the societal stigma that is unfortunately attached to conditions such as multiple sclerosis and are committed, like I am, to ensure people that may have hidden symptoms face no discrimination in their day to day lives.
It is fantastic therefore, to be working closely with the MS Society on this campaign, and that members of the MS community have responded positively to this signage.”
Talking about the #AnyDisability symbol, Jessie said:
“It is important that we are supporting this campaign because we are the biggest MS charity in England and we need to build a united front across all disability charities with invisible symptoms to educate people about this."
Over the next few months, we’ll be finding ways to build the case for this symbol.
Join the campaigns community to stay up to date and hear about ways to share your experience and get involved. Watch this space!