Unique insights

Co-convenor of the CSP DisAbility network Emma Webster explains how disabled physiotherapists can make stronger clinicians 

Emma Webster
Emma Webster recently returned to non-clinical work as a rehabilitation case manager

Between 18 November and 18 December, UK Disability History Month is championing the theme of disability and hidden impairment.

Those of us that have invisible impairments have not been viewed as disabled but may have been equally as mistreated as those with more obvious impairments. Consequently, many of us that can keep their disabilities hidden choose to do so. 

As a woman with several disabilities myself, both visible and invisible including stroke and epilepsy, I am blessed in that clinicians and employers have been incredibly helpful in ensuring that the impacts of my disabilities are minimised. This can be as simple as allowing me to work from home and take extra breaks post-fatigue/seizure. 

It has become hugely apparent, however, during my time as co-convenor of the DisAbility network that many are not so lucky. A key aim of the network is to promote a guide to reasonable adjustments that can be utilised by clinicians and employers alike to implement vital, often simple, adjustments within a role. This has a positive impact both for employee experience and efficiency, and ultimately benefits all parties. Disabled physios have a truly unique perspective and a personal understanding of how we can make these differences, and it makes us stronger clinicians as a result. Let’s utilise this!

It has been a privilege to be involved in the growth of the diversity networks in my time as co-convenor and it is hugely reassuring to see how empowered all members of the DisAbility network have become in fighting disablism and providing support to others. The level of the growth has been so great that we are currently looking to expand leadership roles within the network.

Please do come and join us!

I hope you take the time to reflect on several pieces in this edition of your magazine, as they provide real life examples of disablism and great advice on how we can best overcome them. It includes fighting audism, resolving problems surrounding face masks and becoming an ally to everyone, with both visible and invisible disabilities. 

In the words of disability activist Robert M Hensel:

there is no greater disability in society, than the inability to see a person as more.

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