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This content is taken from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine & International Centre for Evidence in Disability's online course, Global Health and Disability. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 13 seconds MYROSLAVA: I would say that disability is very largely a social construct. It’s also a way of labelling a very, very wide range of people who all are somehow interconnected by the experience of having a body that for one reason or another, doesn’t quite perform in the way that we expect it to perform. So it’s a very, very, very diverse identity, a diverse bunch of people and of experiences. But there is that shared experience of just sometimes living in a world that doesn’t seem to be built for you, but also, living with a body that just somehow doesn’t work the way you want it to.

Skip to 1 minute and 10 seconds DEUS: Everybody has different disabilities. And every person is affected differently. So the way one is affected is not the same way another person is affected. So my needs are not somebody’s needs too. So comparing the two may be hard.

Skip to 1 minute and 43 seconds KIM: Disability, I would describe as like, for instance, we are normal. We can do certain things that sighted people can do. But we do things a little bit different than the sighted people, such as writing and reading.

Skip to 2 minutes and 5 seconds RIDA: I feel it’s more society that makes me disabled. Lack of access to public infrastructure, places like universities for example, the mall, movies– malls, shops, things like that are not very accessible for me. And I say I feel more disabled by what the environment ables me to do.

Skip to 2 minutes and 33 seconds RICHARD: The idea of disability for me is that it disabled me to live my full life. It was like having a major, major rock on my shoulders. And at times, looking into a deep, deep black hole. And that wasn’t living, that was just existing. And that, for me, was the disability that I wasn’t able to live life to its full, and to enjoy life and experience life.

Skip to 3 minutes and 6 seconds GADIJA: I am a blind person, a very proud one. But it’s taken a long time for me to say that I’m a proud blind person.

Skip to 3 minutes and 16 seconds BRANDON: If you look at it generally, disability would be that there’s some type of impairment to a person if they’re sitting down, or they’re visually impaired, or whatever. But personally, with me, it’s more mindset. So disability is only as strong of a word as what you make it out to be.

What does disability mean: personal perspectives

Our next activity this week focuses on explaining how disability is understood in a global health framework.

In this first step, we will hear from a range of persons with disabilities discussing what having a disability means to them personally.

Myroslava, Deus, Kim, Rida, Richard, Gadija and Brandon will all share their thoughts with you. We hope you enjoy listening to them. Don’t forget that you can respond in the comments section below if you want to share your own perspectives or thoughts after hearing their answers.

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This video is from the free online course:

Global Health and Disability

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine