July 2009


In an AHEAD/TNS MRBI survey 2 years ago 73% of employers said that graduates with disabilities should disclose.

Disclosure comes up frequently for graduates with disabilities when we’re talking to them and is a session in the Get Ready for Work seminars, especially in relation to invisible disabilities.

BUT

Irish legislation* makes no reference to disclosure of disability*. Nothing says you do or don’t have to disclose your disability.

I find this rather frustrating but also rather interesting.

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*I am referring to the Disability Act 2005, the Equality Act 2004, the Equal Status Act 2000, the Employment Equality Act 1998 and the Health, Safety & Welfare at Work Act 2005

*The Employement Equality Act and the Equal Status Act both refer to the disclosure of information in the context of the equality tribunal or the labour court, but make no reference to disability

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I was reading a few posts on Tommy’s site recently where he was talking about his cane and the posts resonated with me.

Every time I talk to a group of people about disclosure (of disability) their reactions are very different. And I got to thinking about my reactions. I get tired telling people. I have a spiel that I think makes me even sound tired talking about it. My disabilities are mostly invisible (if you’re not looking hard, or don’t know what to look for at least). I don’t hide them, but they are definitely more invisible. I do have a choice – I don’t have to tell. I could pass for able bodied. My disability is not revealed not by my body, there’s no ‘giveaways’ But because of the way this world is, for me to operate in it, I have to tell. And telling can be difficult or tiring, you are revealing personal information that people sometimes don’t know what to do with. Which can be awkward. But then so is a halfway existence. Sometimes, I wish it was it was told for me – that I had a cane. Or the hearing aids I had as a small kid which I wore in a little harness on my chest – 2 little pouches,  with 2 boxes, and long wires dangling out of them. But that’s only sometimes. More often, I wish it wasn’t necessary to make it obvious. That the way this world is, includes people like me a little more. I also wish that having been this person all my life, that I could talk about that one part of me more easily, so that we can get back to a conversation which all of me is in, not just my disability.*

So when disclosure comes up, I’m very concious of all the emotions and the difficulties that people may have. I also think that those who look for that information should think about what telling is, and how it would be to have to do it. All the time.

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*I don’t mean this as a ‘poor me’ piece, more as a reflective piece, based on my thoughts and feelings after reading Tommy’s posts.

(yes, the title is vague, but read on, it makes sense, honestly!)

Recently I read two articles about Aspergers Syndrome in the context of education. And as I went from one to the other I noticed something, and while only small, it bothered me. And I began to wonder whether anyone else would notice it, and if so, what they thought about it.

You see, one article was in the Guardian on July 4th and the other in the Sunday Business Post on July 7th . So, similar time frames. Both write about Aspergers Syndrome in an educational context. Both talk to the parents of kids with AS. Both talk to people involved in education of people with AS (admittedly for different reasons) Both articles talk about the challenges and difficulties there can be in educating someone with AS.

Only one article quotes anybody with AS. Only one article talks to someone with AS about their experiences. Which gives you a better idea about AS?

I know which one I understood. And liked.

So yea. 2 ways of skinning a cat. 2 ways about writing about the same topic.

Survey on access to leisure for all

Enable Ireland is asking people with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities to take part in an online survey on their experiences of social and leisure activities. In 2008, research for the organisation showed that two out of three people with a disability found it difficult to access any form of social or leisure activity.

The survey is available online here. Results will be released in advance of Action Week on Disability, which will take place from 14th-19th September 2009.

Careers Fairs are kicking off soon. To get you ready check out this:

For more information go to their website

Presentations and public speaking

One of my favourite bloggers, Rowan Manahan, has finally put all the presentation stuff he talks about and all his useful tips and so on into a separate blog: You can find it here. Many people have a horror of public speaking and presenting, and this is a really good way to learn more about it.

A different approach to job seeking

One person is trying twitter and facebook and linkedin, and a website, to see if it helps him get a job. Check out his site here. Either way, you can’t say he isn’t trying!

It appears I can’t multitask and general busyness means I ignored the blog. Apologies, I’ll try to make up for it. So here’s a run down of the last month:

Running the Get Ready for Work Seminars was exhuasting, but I think successful. Over 40 people recieved training, with more than 12 careers advisors involved, and 10 employers. Feedback overall has been excellent, and reviews of the seminars are ongoing. If there’s demand, we’ll look at another one by the end of 2009. If you, or anyone you know are interested, please get in touch.

Apart from Get Ready for Work, I’ve been hatching some new plans with my colleagues so, watch this space sometime in September 🙂

The Facebook Page is now at http://www.facebook.com/getaheadforum. Much easier to direct people to, so please do 🙂

I was also down at the Union Organisation Seminar run by USI (the Union of Students in Ireland) for all students union officers in Ireland. I go to talk to them every year about the issues facing students with disabilities on campus, and to talk about what they can do/ should do. It’s always interesting to get their take on what’s happening and to discuss plans and ideas they have for the upcoming year. This year looks set to be excellent too, so keep an eye on USI Equality

AHEAD has put together a response to the proposed model for the Fund for students with disabilities in 2009/2010. I’ve linked to the response here, just for your information. If you’ve any questions, shout.

We’re also currently looking for your comments and suggestions for a charter for inclusive teaching and learning. There’s more information here, and after you’ve read this, if you’ve any thoughts, please feel free to comment or to email my colleague Lorraine at lorraine.gallagher AT ahead DOT ie

On Friday, I’m off to deliver some training for WAM in the ESB, so I’m getting to keep in touch with what WAM is up to and how its going.

Next week, I’m on holidays, but there’ll be scheduled posts to make it as if I’m still here!