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Disability Narratives

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Video clip: Ruth would be happy to disclose her dyslexia in a job application, but is unsure if it was always a good idea because of some of the preconceptions people can have about disability.

Well, one of the things that I, when I looked at this list, it says 'when do you disclose a disability?' I can't remember if I disclosed it when I came here or not. I now know that the libraries wouldn't have known if I did. But as an applicant, you don't know that. And I think that's a really difficult thing to deal with, in terms of knowing well who will get to see this information? I think it's very easy to put recruiting managers off. Not all of them are open-minded. And what they're looking for is the best and brightest, and the person who will do the job - you know - brilliantly. And so I would always think twice before declaring a disability, if it meant an awful lot to me to get that job. I'm at the stage in my career where I probably wouldn't care now, in that I'm not so bothered. But actually, you know, when it's your bread and butter that's at stake, I still probably would urge some caution. But I think that the secret as it were, has been very well kept here. But as an external person, you don't know that it will be. And in some organisations it isn't. So I think that's still a difficult thing for people to determine. Especially if it's a hidden disability.

Could you maybe say a bit more about that? Because you're quite a senior position in the department, so you can see that from two, two positions - as someone with a disability, and then someone -

Yes. I think it's - I think some people feel that they will be perceived to have a weakness, and not that it's just a different aspect of, of the way they are, and that they will still be able to do whatever is needed to be done, but they might do it in a different way. I think, I think a lot of people haven't had to think about disability, or the fact that - you know - the person sitting next to them may have some extra need for some different support. And the fact that it needn't affect the outcomes. And, and because they haven't had to think it through, then they may react slightly inappropriately to begin with. But most people that I've encountered, once they understand, are supportive and reasonable. And I don't think it's an issue then. It's just that initial hesitation, and wondering what will happen. And also the fact that often we find ourselves in competition. And I think whilst we're not - we might not be set up to be in competition, at times at work you are. And I think that that's revealing something about yourself that maybe you don't want everybody to know, because you might feel at a disadvantage at some point. Yeah. I think that's roughly what I would say about that.