The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

Are visible disabilities making people invisible?

With all the focus on invisible illness, this article below is a nice feature to remind us that those with VISIBLE disabilities are often made to FEEL invisible. Special thanks to the writer, Jennifer Boen, for calling attention to those of us in society who are made to feel invisible, regardless of what our bodies can and cannot do.
Article published Aug 13, 2007
Doctor ‘makes the day matter’
Physician raises awareness of the ‘invisibility’ of disabled people in society

Dr. Mark Zolman has grown accustomed to the eyes of new patients slowly moving downward as he enters the exam room at Physical Medicine Consultants in Lutheran Medical Park.

Instead of walking in, he rolls into the room in a wheelchair.

“Most of them are looking up. At first, they’re surprised, but I’ve never had a patient upset. After I work with them, it doesn’t seem like a big deal,” said the 40-year-old physiatrist.

A physiatrist provides nonsurgical treatment for acute and musculoskeletal injuries.

Zolman has been paralyzed from the waist down since age 15, when a tree that was being felled twisted unexpectedly and landed on him.

Despite earning a medical degree from Indiana University and completing a residency at the renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Zolman, like many other people with obvious disabilities, experiences what he calls “invisibility.”

“I’m treated totally different in the office than when I’m out there,” he said, referring to world outside his office. “Out there, I’m really not noticed. Here, people actually talk to me because of what I know.” At a restaurant, he said, most servers ask his wife what he wants to eat. “They’ll give her the bill,” he said, adding the couple has learned to laugh about it. “Sometimes I make her pay.”

David Mank is director of the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University-Bloomington and a contributing researcher for a just-released book, “Make the Day Matter!: Promoting Typical Lifestyles for Adults with Significant Disabilities.”

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