Laura Brydges' hidden disability symbol
By Spencer van Vloten
August 8th, 2021
After a car accident left her with a brain injury, Laura Brydges became increasingly frustrated with the lack of understanding about disabilities that couldn't be seen or heard.
In response, she started a national movement to promote a hidden disability symbol and advocate for policies which remove barriers faced by persons with hidden disabilities. Her movement is growing, and here's what she's calling for.
Laura Brydges: State of Exclusion
At the age of 44, Laura Brydges was in major car accident that would change her life.
Although she survived the collision, she didn't come out unscathed. Laura suffered a brain injury that impaired her ability to take in and retain information: she started having vision problems, sensory processing challenges, and difficulty with memory; she also found herself bogged down by depression.
These changes profoundly impacted her daily living. She felt insecure out in public: things were too intense, too noisy, too complex. Her brain would shut down and she'd find herself overwhelmed, unable to communicate or perform basic tasks.
But with all her disabilities hidden to the plain eye, no one around Laura in these moments knew what was going on or why she was struggling. There were stares, laughs, and other unappreciated reactions.
Growing frustrated with the lack of understanding, she decided she had to do something to bring attention to the issue.
SECOND TIME'S THE CHARM
After thinking it through, Laura chose her course of action.
She'd design a symbol to raise awareness and understanding about hidden disabilities, and to provide a tool that could speak for persons with hidden disabilities when they couldn't.
It didn't all go to plan, however, as her first attempt at creating the symbol ran into problems.
"The first symbol had a chequered design that people found too busy and visually distracting, so I decided it wouldn't work. It was important for me to have something that the community would embrace."
It was her second attempt that would prove to be the keeper. This symbol consisted of a body, divided in half; one of those halves blue, the other white.