This Is Me amplifies the voices of individuals living with disabilities and chronic health conditions, caregivers and disability rights activists.

The diverse perspectives featured in this exhibit remind us how far we have come in the healthcare system and in society over the past 30 years. They also remind us of how much work remains to be done to achieve true equity and full inclusion.

Una with Family

"My advice to you: If you see an individual or a family with autism, smile. You know? Just be friendly and if someone is struggling, ask if you can help. And just don’t judge."

King

"A diagnosis is not just a diagnosis—there’s a story behind it. I envision a healthcare system, and medicine, to be a world where we’re seen as human beings first."

Nini

"For Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals, nothing can happen before communication access. Once that need is met, we can go forward. It can be a matter of life or death."

Cheri

"We need to recognize that disability is a ubiquitous part of the human experience. Rather than people with disabilities being a small minority group, it’s actually all of us at some point in life."

Michael

"I did not go to law school to be a disability rights advocate. It was only after considering how I had been excluded and thinking about how the world should be made better that I got involved."

Maura with Tyler

"We really want doctors to understand that people are more than their autism."

Zary

"Through my journey in life, I learned an invaluable lesson: people can contribute and support others no matter what barriers they might experience."

Sharon

"Visibility is being vocal about what it’s like to live with disabilities."

Ben

"I am not the only one who has Down syndrome in this house. That makes it a whole lot easier to know that I am not the only one."

Kelsey

"Hiding my illness felt like conforming to a culture of silence among physicians facing their own health challenges."

Bill

"If you don’t have good housing, you don’t have good health if you have a disability. This is a civil rights movement very few people know about."

Amy

"When my daughter was diagnosed, nobody told me to go figure out my insurance because autism services weren’t covered."

Gyasi

"As much as I’m involved in disability advocacy because I represent something, I also have to be here for more than just me."

Mass General welcomes individuals with varying abilities and chronic health conditions as patients, providers, staff and visitors. This exhibit reinforces our commitment to fostering a warm, inclusive and welcoming environment for everyone.

Joseph Betancourt, MD, MPH
Senior Vice President, Equity and Community Health

We hope you will take the time to reflect upon these narratives. We are grateful to our participants for sharing their stories to educate us all.

Senior Director

Larisa Shagabayeva, MD
2021 Graduate, Harvard Medical School

Junior Directors

Claire C. Rushin
Student, Harvard Medical School

Shahin A. Saberi
Student, Harvard Medical School

Faculty Advisor and Mentor

Dorothy Weiss Tolchin, MD, EdM
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Massachusetts General Hospital
Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
Harvard Medical School

Sponsors

Disability Program
Massachusetts General Hospital
Office of Equity and Community Health

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Massachusetts General Hospital
Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital
Harvard Medical School

Disabilities in Medicine and Dentistry Working Group
Harvard Medical School

HMS Allies in Chronic illness, Health conditions & Disabilities (HACHD)
Harvard Medical School

Special Thanks To

Andrew Chun, Paul Zhou, and Emily Bloch, MD
Current Students and 2021 Graduate, Harvard Medical School