Is It Because of my Disability?
I hope you are doing well on this fine day. After reading this article, I thought I’d weigh in with my thoughts and experiences. I’d also be curious to read your input and opinions about this article. As someone who has a visible disability, specifically blindness, I’ve been through the silent rejection regarding employment and often have questioned whether I was not hired because of said difference.
After working to complete my Bachelor’s degree in social work, I diligently applied to various agencies who were looking for BSW level social workers. Despite being interviewed by a handful of agencies, the end result was receiving the cordial response “we have found a more suitable candidate for this position.” Questions whirled in my mind—was it because I can’t drive or transport clients? Was it because I may need minor technological accommodations such as speech software access? Or was it because I simply didn’t make the cut. If I wasn’t a good candidate, I could accept that, but what irks me is when I can’t find a job because of misconceptions about my abilities. As far as I know my brain works as well as any average person, however, my eyes are the only sense which is out of commission
I wholeheartedly agree with the message conveyed in the above article. Despite laws whose purpose is to create an equal playing field for those with disabilities, barriers to attitude and access are prevalent. I commend those who have come before me who have tirelessly worked to remove the stigma related to disability, however, I think the take away message is we still have a ways to go until true equality is achieved. This is why I am a member of the NFB, a consumer organization of the blind who strives to “change what it means to be blind” along with “The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want; blindness is not what holds you back.”
Now, I am quite realistic about my abilities and limitations. For instance, I know for a fact I won’t be an airline pilot or brain surgeon, but this doesn’t fully have to do with my disability. First of all I’m not a math or science-minded person, so those occupations are out of my realm, and I’ve discovered my passion. It’s helping people become the best they can be. Whether it’s acting as a case manager or therapist, I strive to see those I work with realize their strengths and true worth.
I’ve found a profession and colleagues who as a whole accept me for who I am—Anjelina, a social worker who happens to be blind. Even though after grad school I will once again begin the at times challenging job hunt, my goal is to find that employer who is willing to see me for the contributions I can provide to their agency without bringing my blindness into question. While this may seem like a daunting task, I am fully aware I will have to educate and advocate for myself, but what I want most of all is to be seen as a member of a team who can equally pull her own weight in all aspects of life. The NFB’s tagline is “live the life you want” and this is my ultimate goal.
Until next time,