International Day of the Disabled Person: Not all disabilities are visible

Thursday 3 December 2020


This International Day of the Disabled Person we've worked with Rebbecca who has relapsing MS to tell her story about invisible symptoms. When you might look okay but that's not the full picture of how you feel inside.

What is International Day of the Disabled Person?

International Day of the Disabled Person is an annual celebration of disabled people that falls on 3 December this year.

The 2020 theme is ‘Not all disabilities are visible’ and focuses on spreading awareness and understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent. That includes mental illness, chronic pain or fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, diabetes, brain injuries, neurological conditions like MS, learning differences and cognitive dysfunctions. 

Showing the invisible symptoms of MS

Many symptoms of MS are invisible. Just because someone looks okay doesn't mean they are. We worked with our Stop MS Co-production Group on an animation to tell Rebbecca's story about when you look fine on the outside but inside it's a different story.

1 billion disabled people worldwide

According to the WHO World Report on Disability, 15% of the world’s population, or more than 1 billion people, are disabled. Of this number, they estimate 450 million are living with a mental or neurological condition. And many do not seek professional help because of stigma or discrimination.

"Our heads and shoulders look okay on Zoom, but pan down and it's a different story."

MS is a condition with many invisible symptoms. Today is a reminder of the importance of removing barriers for everyone living with disability, both visible and invisible. 

Working together to stop MS

Our Stop MS Co-production Group have been working on content for our Stop MS Appeal since the beginning of the campaign last year.

This year we've been concentrating on showing the realities of life with MS. Jacqueline, Teresa, Manisha, Rebbecca and others in the group have reflected on MS symptoms like cognitive problems, pain, fatigue and when you feel like a different person to who you were before your MS diagnosis. 

Rebbecca's story is the first of their animations. 

Join our co-production network

Invisible disability during a pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has felt like a leveler for some people, but others can't access services they need to live well with MS. Or are worried about not having the space they need when they go outside. 

And the pandemic can make invisible symptoms even less apparent. Jacqueline says "Our heads and shoulders look okay on Zoom, but pan down and it's a different story.

"My desktop is strewn with post-its and notes where my cognitive symptoms mean I can't keep track of what I need to do."

Share your story of life with invisible symptoms

What do people need to know about the invisible symptoms of MS?

Share your invisible symptom stories, let’s spread the word on Twitter and Instagram using #NotAllDisabilitiesAreVisible.

Or use our form if you want us to share your story for you.

We're here for everyone with MS during the pandemic. We've got information you can trust and ways to connect online. And we're funding research to one day stop MS altogether.

Donate to help stop MS