What's disability to me? Personal narratives

June 2011

People with disabilities are very diverse. They differ in gender, age, socioeconomic status, sexuality, ethnicity, and cultural heritage. Each person has his or her personal preferences and responses to disability.

Health conditions associated with disability can be visible or invisible; temporary or long term; static, episodic, or degenerating; painful or inconsequential.

These first hand accounts of disability, along with the film series "What's disability to me?", describe the experiences of people with disabilities and put names and faces to just a few of the billion people with disabilities around the world.

  • Australia: Lester Bostock
    Lester Bostock writes about how an accident resulted in his being amputed above one knee. He decribes the difficulty in accepting an unexpected disability and the importance of extended family and close friends in providing support during difficult times.
  • Canada: Alisha Lee
    Alisha Lee has congenital muscular dystrophy. She writes of her struggle as a 16 year old. "What's important to me in life is trying to be as regular as I can be, up to the fullest point, do everything I can – and don't waste time or sit around moping."
  • Russian Federation: Vlad Sanotsky
    Vlad Sanotsky is 29 years old, and has Down syndrome. One might assume that Down syndrome means limitation, but when Vlad writes of his achievements in swimming and theatre, one realizes how rich life can be.
  • Kenya: Casey Marenge
    Casey Marenge was only 20 years old, just heading into college when she was involved in a tragic road crash and was paralyzed from her shoulders down. She writes of the challenges of rehabilitation and getting adequate care.
  • Philippines: Jaime Silva
    Jaime Silva explains how disability need not be a barrier to achieving your dreams. He describes how despite congenital glaucoma, he has been able to pursue his dream of working in the field of architecture. He writes "I just want to be proactive in the things I do: be it my career or helping those around me."
  • United Kingdom: John and Stephanie Coulthard
    John Coulthard writes about caring for his wife, Stephanie, who is 62 years old and has Alzheimer’s disease. He writes that being a carer is about loss, 'cans' and 'can'ts', and about stress and survival.

Ebola infographic: What you need to know

Corporate resources