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Life With An Invisible Disability
Ellie is a profoundly deaf blogger who writes all about life as a deaf person on her own website, Deafie Blogger. Today, she talks to us about invisible disabilities, the prejudice faced by those who don’t ‘look’ disabled and the choice to disclose disability on job applications.
We’ve all done it! ... Ok I've been rumbled!!! ... I've done it myself! The moment when someone parks in a disabled parking bay or goes into a disabled toilet, I've got to admit I'm guilty as charged, I've thought to myself; are they really disabled? Or they don't LOOK disabled!
Of course I should know better! Well I do really and it's not something I usually do, because I know that many disabilities are 'invisible' and I am definitely not one to judge or just assume. One of the phrases which winds me up more than most is; 'you don't LOOK deaf!'
Well, what 'deaf' people are supposed to look like defies logic?!
What I'm trying to say is, with many disabilities, you just can't tell by looking at the disabled person what disability they have and to be honest, we don't always need or have the right to know.
This gets me on to the subject (slightly off on a tangent), as to whether disabled people should declare their disability on a job application. I was advised by a lovely, helpful Disability Employment Advisor at The Jobcentre (who I would definitely promote) that we don't have to disclose our disability by law on an application form, so that's completely up to the individual person. Although, of course if you do need extra help or adaptions at an interview or for the job itself then it might make more sense to let them know. I always think that having a disability means we have to try so much harder, so employing a disabled person makes complete sense.
Getting back to the original subject, 'invisible' disabilities are only invisible to others who either don't know or who don't want to know. To some people, they don't really exist or are in some way less significant if they can't be seen. I blog about deafness to increase deaf awareness and to hopefully help people to understand the difficulties, to change perceptions and for others to hopefully become more tolerant. Rather than hiding our disabilities or feeling embarrassed or ashamed of them, we should be able to live in a society which embraces everyone. Everyone is unique, no one is any more important than anyone else. We all deserve the same respect, dignity and consideration.
So much more needs to happen for people to embrace and accept everyone for who they are, and not what society wants them to be. We are all different.
My favourite story I'm 'borrowing' from my disabled uncle. He pulled into a disabled parking bay at his local supermarket, but hadn't put his blue badge in place. A grumpy bystander started shouting at him as he struggled out of his car, pointing out that it was a disabled parking bay. My uncle's reply; 'Do I look *beeping* normal?' He cheekily called back... (He’s an achondroplastic dwarf and proud of it!) He could tell that the chap was so embarrassed, but he just couldn't resist!
Have you encountered any uncomfortable situations due to having an invisible condition? We'd love to know: leave us a comment below!