These days there’s a form for everything. Some ask open questions and leave a section for you to write in an answer. Others it’s just a tick box exercise. The latter is probably more to make data entry easier, rather than to assist the person completing the form. And then it asks if you are disabled. But doesn’t clarify what counts, why it needs to know, or how being defined as such will help. I understand that because here in the UK we have the Disability Discrimination Act, it is to highlight the individual to avoid discrimination. But unless you know in what way someone is disabled, how do you assist them? I don’t think a brain injury fits into this exercise easily.
My suspicion of such forms.
OK hands up, I know I’m over reacting. But here’s why: Some of you will know my Mum was Irish. She always felt forms asking about ethnicity were discriminatory, if they asked specifically if you are Irish. Previously I wrote in Agony of cognitive tailspin after brain injury about how Mum was proud to be Irish. She was acutely aware of how the rocky historic relationship between Great Britain and sectors of the Republic of Ireland, coloured some peoples view. So she questioned why they had sections for both Irish and European. As the Republic of Ireland are in the EU, Irish citizens could just tick European.
Mum was suspicious of being badly labelled because of the activities of the IRA. Most likely she was over imaginative, but no form should intimidate you this way. She was trying to understand why they needed to know when an individual is from that specific island. And I find myself now doing the same with the disability box.
I’m not registered disabled, because you can’t.
Most people think the easy answer to this is, only tick “yes” if you are registered disabled. But there is no such thing anymore. There are some Government benefits you might be entitled to, but if you don’t qualify there is no other database you can be registered on. This was a result of the Disability Discrimination Act coming into force in 1995. That was when the country started to realise that as disability doesn’t have to be physical, so dropped the register.
If students have conditions such as dyslexia, it’s important they inform the school or college. This is because in exams they will be given extra time. It’s important because the student may have the right answers, but needs extra time to be able to process the question and submit an answer. So it’s not enough to tick the disability box in this example, they need to know how to support them. Otherwise if the school provided a ramp for wheelchairs, but not extra time, the box did not prevent discrimination.
The term is very broad so I’m not sure how it helps.
If the box might not prevent me from being discriminated against, why would I want this label? I have enough pointless labels as it is, thanks very much. In Living with invisible disability caused by brain injury I was pointing out how there are times I wish the public knew they needed to cut me some slack. I meant things like don’t shove past me when you’re in a hurry, as my weak leg and poor balance might make me fall over. I don’t mean I want a neon light flashing over my head saying “Give this one a wide berth as it’s faulty.”
I’m sure there a hoards of people who disagree with me and find the disability box very useful. But recently I was at an appointment with a new therapist, and I asked it the box meant things like blind, deaf etc. Having told her I had a brain injury she asked if I was registered disabled. As I’m not (at this point I didn’t know that this is defunct) she said I should leave it. However, by the end of the session, having learned more about me she decided to reverse that decision. So there are probably a huge proportion of people who don’t tick the box, when in fact they should. But if there isn’t going to be an explanation of how you qualify in a tangible way, or what the use of this information is, it’s as much use as a chocolate tea pot.