Day 9: Wellbeing Collection: Hidden disabilities

i am human/  the shape of my body/ exists within space
(Sluman, 2017)
an extract from the poem shove ten pounds of sugar in a seven pound bag in
Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back

December holds UK Disability History Month and International Day of People with Disabilities (03/12/2021). Day 9 of the Knowledge and Library Services calendar wanted to recognise these events and raise awareness of disabilities and hidden impairments.

What is disability history month?

The 18th November – 18th December is UK Disability History Month.
UK Disability History Month aims to:

  • Celebrate our Lives as Disabled People now and in the past
  • Challenge Disabilism by exploring our oppression over time and now
  • Achieve Equality

One of this year’s themes is Disability and Hidden Impairments.

What are hidden impairments?

Hidden impairments or invisible disabilities, are disabilities which are not obvious, they can be:
“physical, mental or neurological and include, but are not limited to, autism and Asperger syndrome, cognitive impairments such as learning difficulties and dementia, as well as mental health conditions and speech, visual impairments or hearing loss. They also include respiratory and chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, chronic pain and sleep disorders when these significantly impact day-to-day life.” (Hidden Disabilities, n.d.).

Did you know? Facts and figures

  • In the UK 14.1 million people are disabled (Scope, n.d.). 
  • 80% of people living with a disability have an invisible disability (Hidden Disabilities, n.d.).
  • Scope’s Disability Perception Gap report (2018) found that, “1 in 3 disabled people feel there’s a lot of disability prejudice.” (Scope, n.d.).

Want to learn more? Visit the…
UK Disability History Month website
Hidden Disabilities website
International Day of People with Disabilities website


The Wellbeing collection and hidden impairments

The Wellbeing collection contains multiple resources which cover hidden impairments and invisible disabilities, below contains relevant topic book lists. Books in the collection are in print, eBook and audiobook formats. 

Book lists containing titles on hidden disabilities:

Wellbeing collection – Mental health books

Wellbeing collection – disabilities / hidden disabilities 

Wellbeing collection – Long term and chronic conditions

Wellbeing collection – Autism and Asperger’s

Wellbeing collection – Cancer 

We also have books on specific disabilities and conditions, such as deafness or heart disease, that we do not have a full booklist for. Plus a selection of diversity and inclusion books which can be browsed on BorrowBox

Books Beyond Words
Books Beyond Words are books that support people who find pictures easier to understand than words. More about Beyond Words can be found on the Beyond Words website.


New in

The KLS have added new content that explores disabilities or is by disabled authors:

We welcome suggestions for the Wellbeing collection, contact with your recommendations.


Reviews (coming soon)

Interested in our titles but want to read a review first? KLS team members will be posting their reviews in the coming days, below shows the books will be reviewing and the synopsis for each book:  


Explaining Humans book coverExplaining Humans: What Science Can Teach Us about Life, Love and Relationships by Camilla Pang – will be reviewed by Mina 

Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of eight, Camilla Pang struggled to understand the world around her and the way people worked. Desperate for a solution, Camilla asked her mother if there was an instruction manual for humans that she could consult. But, without the blueprint to life she was hoping for, Camilla began to create her own. Now armed with a PhD in biochemistry, Camilla dismantles our obscure social customs and identifies what it really means to be human using her unique expertise and a language she knows best: science.


Disability Visibility book coverDisability Visibility: First-Person Stories From the Twenty-First Century by Alice Wong (Ed.). – will be reviewed by Mina

Some disabilities are visible, others less apparent—but all are underrepresented in media and popular culture. Now, just in time for the thirtieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, activist Alice Wong brings together this urgent, galvanizing collection of contemporary essays by disabled people.

From Harriet McBryde Johnson’s account of her debate with Peter Singer over her own personhood to original pieces by authors like Keah Brown and Haben Girma; from blog posts, manifestos, and eulogies to Congressional testimonies, and beyond: this anthology gives a glimpse into the rich complexity of the disabled experience, highlighting the passions, talents, and everyday lives of this community. It invites readers to question their own understandings. It celebrates and documents disability culture in the now. It looks to the future and the past with hope and love.



Stairs and Whispers book coverStairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back – will be reviewed by Mary

Nine Arches Press is proud to publish this innovative and boundary breaking anthology. Co-edited by poets Sandra Alland, Khairani Barokka and Daniel Sluman Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back examines the poetics of disabled and D/deaf cultures. The first of its kind and packed with fierce poetry, essays, photos and links to accessible online videos, it showcases a diversity of styles, opinions, and survival strategies for a world that often works to shut us down.




Good Kings Bad Kings book coverGood Kings, Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum – will be reviewed by Claire

Told in alternating perspectives by a varied cast of characters, Good Kings, Bad Kings is a powerful and inspiring debut that invites us into the lives of a group of teenagers and staff who live at the ILLC. From Yessenia, who dreams of her next boyfriend, to Teddy, a resident who dresses up daily in a full suit and tie, and Mia, who guards a terrifying secret, Nussbaum has crafted a multifaceted portrait of a way of life that challenges our definitions of what it means to be disabled.



Bride Test book coverThe Bride Test by Helen Hoang – will be reviewed by Charlotte

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, not big, important emotions – like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better – that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly refuses to consider a relationship, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.
As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. So when the opportunity arises to go to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down. This could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go quite as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working… but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.
As Esme’s time in the United States dwindles, will Khai let his head catch up with his heart? Will he find the strength to let go, and let love in?


We want to hear from you! Let the KLS know if you have read, or when you do read, any of our Wellbeing titles. Did you enjoy it? Was it a brilliant listen? You may even want to write a review of your own for our Wellbeing collection page sharing your thoughts. The Wellbeing collection page contains further information about the collection, including reviews, new books and some frequent questions and answers. 


Before you go…

Don’t forgot to view the Wellbeing pages on the intranet (UKHSA staff only) and explore posts from International Day of People with Disabilities (03/12/2021).



Resources and organisations referenced on this page are intended as a useful guide for information purposes only. Inclusion or exclusion of resources does therefore not signify that Knowledge and Library Services endorse or do not endorse the activities of a particular organisation. Knowledge and Library Services are not responsible for the information or services provided by external organisations. 


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