Tag Archives: ABC

Employable Me AU – Food for thought

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As a disabled woman (#identityfirst), I was eagerly awaiting the premiere of Employable Me AU. At first I was a bit sceptical; would it be a patronising wank-fest? Would possible employers be hailed as heroes for the charitable gesture of taking on a disabled employee? Could I watch it without vomiting or throwing something at the TV?

Then I remembered this was the ABC, not commercial television. They may be politically biased, but at least they recognise disability as a human condition. Phew!

I’ll admit, I hadn’t heard of this show until the Aussie version was advertised, but I imagined it to be the employment version of the BBc series The Undatables (which I loved by the way), and in a way, it was.

OK, so there was no vomiting, nor was there any urges to throw things at the TV, (fortunate, as I was watching it on my iPad and the TV was in the other room so I would have had to get up). There was however, many tears.

As I watched, I felt a tremendous sense of guilt at being employed by a great organisation and how much I have been able to advance my career. Further, I have been working here for almost 14 years so I felt a bit greedy. Sometimes even, I am astounded by how good I am at making things all about me. In my defence though. I also felt enormously grateful.

Anyway, long story short, I really liked it.

It actually took the time to highlight the fact that (not unlike everyone else), disabled employees can and do bring unique insights and talents to the work place, even one that is not a sheltered workshop. HOORAY!

If I do have one criticism though, it is that all the disabilities that were featured were all intellectual or neurological. There was no one whose disability was purely physical, i.e. someone who is blind, deaf, missing a limb or who has a mobility issue.

Yes, I could relate to the prejudices that the subjects faced as disabled job seekers, but not in the same way. Remember, not all disabilities are created equal.

At least two of these people had a job coach with them to help them secure a job and settle in, just as I did back when I started (much to my embarrassment). However, not one of them needed assistive technology ( such as a screen reader) as I do now.

This might seem insignificant, but in omitting this, they missed the chance to show employers how easy it is to procure/use things like this without disrupting anyone else’s productivity or adversely affecting the company’s profit margin. That goes for building/work station modification too.

This seems (in my experience) to be one of the biggest hesitations for employers taking on a disabled person as a new staff member.

Some one asked me the other day what the biggest challenge as a disabled person in the workplace is for me. The answer is trust. Because there is generally such a low expectation of disabled people in general, I find that often people are hesitant to trust me with important tasks, believing that said task would be far beyond my capabilities or comprehension. It isn’t, unless I say it is.

I found this a lot in the beginning, but thankfully, it happens less and less these days. I do get the odd person appear taken a back when they meet me in person after working with me by phone or email though. Again, this goes back to low expectation and I think this will stop with an influx of highly capable disabled employees (such as myself, LOL) being around.

Now all we need is to make the public realise that having the desire to work (even if you are disabled) is not inspirational, it is normal.

XOXO

 

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My reaction to the ABC documentary “You can’t ask that! Visual difference”

 

After watching the ABC’s fabulous documentary “You can’t ask that! Visual difference” naturally, I felt a blog coming on.

 

I also have a very sore neck from nodding in agreement. And my tummy hurt from laughing so hard.

 

I know I have covered this topic many times before. But what can I say? I couldn’t help myself.  

 

I am not in the habit of doing it, but if I asked someone “do you think I’m pretty?”  The answer will most certainly be yes.

 

If I make a negative comment about my appearance, I can almost guarantee that I will be contradicted.

 

Often, not only contradicted, but also told off.

 

I get random strangers tell me that I am “gorgeous, beautiful” or worst of all, “cute,” completely out of the blue.

 

This is not because I look like Scarlett Johansson I assure you.

 

Then there are the conversations, often with strangers, who feel the need to tell me what might “help” me to look more “normal.” 

 

Or the one with people that tell me about someone I remind them of (not because we both look different though). They used to be miserable but after having plastic surgery got married and lived happily ever after. 

 

They possibly also got themselves a rainbow coloured unicorn.

 

Then there are the people come up to me on special occasions (after I have spent a king’s ransom and an entire day making myself look gorgeous ) who say “it’s such a shame that you have to bring that ” when they see me hobbling toward them with Cecily, my walking frame. 

 

And my favourite, the people who say, “I don’t see your disability, I just see Nina,” without actually being asked.

 

This, by the way, is much more offensive than if you were staring!

 

I hate that people assume that I am ashamed of myself because I look different or because I am disabled.

 

Sure, I’d love to have bigger boobs (or any boobs at all actually). It would make my clothes sit so much better. But other than that, I don’t think I would change anything if I got the chance. 

 

I realise that a few people won’t believe me. But that says more about them than me.

 

Of course, they these things because they think they need to boost my confidence but what they are actually doing is trying to convince themselves that they are not uncomfortable with how I look.

 

It’s 2017, a disabled or visually different person is no longer required to lock themselves away (Yes there was a time when it was commonplace, even in Australia).

 

To borrow a phrase from another marginalised group in society, “We are here, we’re queer, get used to it!”

 

 

I won’t bother telling you how confident in myself I am, because if I need to do that, then your discomfort with my disability would have prevented you from finding my blog anyway…

 

What I will say though, is that if you’ve had as many operations as I have, you wouldn’t be too keen to have more surgery either.

 

Furthermore, what would be the point? To get myself a boyfriend? 

 

Well, there’s more to life than that.  And besides, I’ve already got one of those!

 

XOXO