The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology has published a seminal briefing on invisible disabilities in education and employment. Chronic Illness Inclusion contributed to the report which discusses the experience of adults with invisible disabilities.
It is estimated that 70-80% of disabilities are invisible and there are a wide range of impairments or conditions not necessarily visible to others.
Such conditions may include: mental health conditions; autism and other neurodivergences, cognitive impairments; hearing, vision and speech impairments; and energy-limiting conditions (such as fibromyalgia).
The briefing highlighted that lack of understanding and stigma from others creates consistent barriers to people with invisible disabilities. It commented that many of those with invisible disabilities are often unsure whether to disclose their disability, because they are worried about disbelief, stigma, and confidentiality.
Recommendations made by the briefing included:
- Deconstructing societal barriers for people with invisible disabilities, which would enable them to participate in civil life, including work and education, which would have significant social and economic benefits.
- Improving awareness and understanding of invisible disability to help to reduce stigmas and exclusionary practices.
- Adjusting the structures or organisations and programmes to help people with invisible disabilities access support.
- Updating policy and guidance with examples of less recognised invisible disabilities and examples of non-physical reasonable adjustments.
- Encouraging flexible working and learning arrangements, which could improve access to work and education.
Chronic Illness Inclusion is encouraged by this report and was delighted to have contributed. You can download the full report here.