Accommodating people with hidden disabilities
And unfortunately, this can lead to discrimination or exclusion of those with an invisible disability.
A person with an invisible disability may find it difficult to talk about their disability and the daily challenges they face.
Removing the social stigma involved with disclosing an invisible disability, and having colleagues, teachers, employers and others try to be more accommodating and accepting of the unique challenges faced by those with invisible disabilities can also help create a more inclusive society.
It’s important to change the way we talk and think about invisible disabilities. Keri Vandeberg, a young woman who is an advocate for invisible disabilities, and has one herself, stresses that “all disabilities are just differences” a good point to remember when trying to foster understanding, acceptance and inclusiveness for everyone.
I simply cannot wear a pair of pumps, and even flats leave me in tears after an hour,” says Sara, who also needs to wear socks at all times and thus cannot wear skirt suits.
“Women who wear normal shoes are chosen over me because they have more ‘jury appeal.'” She also says her workplace maintains an isolating policy that lawyers not wearing “court-appropriate shoes,” must stay in their individual offices and not enter the common areas.
The most frustrating aspect of all, she says, is the constant need to explain herself, or risk seeming unprofessional.
For example, a woman with a gastro-intestinal disorder needs to continually use the restroom during work hours.
Her coworkers, who aren't aware of her needs, develop negative ideas and attitudes about her behaviour; they lack the knowledge and information to change their perceptions and attitudes.
Many employees fear discrimination after disclosing a hidden disability, but without explaining the medical reason behind a request for change in schedule, work environment, or requirements, employers may not be willing to provide accommodations.