The Optical Illusion of Disability

So what do you do when you are disabled, yet still feel able to contribute by getting a job?  You may feel stuck in a no-man’s land, a misfit in a world of employment designed for the able bodied. There are no rules for what you should do, no one expects anything of you, but maybe that’s even worse?  With no job for you to do you have no role or identity – nobody will give you any responsibility so you may feel you have no purpose.

Yet you are condemned to choose, do you  belong to the able world and try to get  a mainstream job?  Do you declare disability in a job application, do you use the two ticks guaranteed interview scheme to make sure they’ll see you?  It’s a minefield.  So perhaps you find that corner to keep quiet in at home, as no one expects more from you? 

We have all, myself included, been to job interviews where it seems they’re not really trying to see what you can offer, only seeing what you can’t do, the problems you would bring. It even feels like they’re only seeing you because the two ticks system requires them to, and they’ll inevitably find a reason not to employ you, it feels like they’ve been patronising you.

Generally employers seem to only see those aspects of disabled people that fit into the disabled world, not the whole entity, only talking to one part of you when in fact you’re a mixture;  able- disabled, gifted- robbed,  brave-scared, lucky- unlucky and if you’re like me you feel  somewhere on these sliding  scales every day, just like everyone else.  It is not as simple as just being disabled.

Disability is an optical illusion, people like to either see you as one thing or another, it seems we can’t be seen as two things at the same time.  People find it easier to box us up and put a label on us, put us in a corner at home while they go out and get the jobs.  Easier to just stay at home?

But aren’t we all, the walking or wheeling wounded, keen to prove we’re not as disabled as we look and capable of so much more?  Because we are.  And because the alternative, the “poor thing” syndrome of being put on the scrap heap unemployable, is even worse, if that’s possible. 

Being able to see the whole person, not just their disability, takes understanding and effort. Is being able to see the positives in being disabled simply impossible?  Research shows unconscious prejudice still exists among some employers, even though other research tells us there are several benefits to employing disabled people, such as being just as productive if not more so than able bodied people, not to mention more reliable and loyal.  And then there are the intangible benefits, staff morale, image as a company that values diversity, the advantages are endless.

So do you  put yourself out there, apply for jobs advertised to able bodied people, to face acceptance or rejection, day after day, time after time, because you know you are able to contribute, you just need to be given a break?

There is another way… There are  employers who can see both sides of you.  How can we be sure?  We talk to the companies that advertise their jobs with us, to make sure they really value disabled people and actively striving to employ more people like you. 

 We are proud to say that the companies advertising their jobs on Evenbreak are genuinely interested in disabled people, not just paying lip service to diversity, but actually keen to see the whole person and their unique skills.  There are hundreds of jobs on, we don’t assume any type of job is beyond you, that’s for you to decide, but you can be sure that disability need not be the thing stopping you from being seen as you really are.

written by Jane Hurst, Publicity Manager (Evenbreak)

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