My blog is all about understanding the intersection between disability and work. This is not just about the individual, as the environmental context is just as important, if not more so, to fully open the workplace to be inclusive and accessible.
The majority of my professional life has been spent working in public and third sector organizations, principally in relation to education and social justice.
Disabled adults make up around 20% of the working age population. The opportunities for the world’s largest social minority are significantly lower than for others. Poverty, lower levels of educational attainment and an unemployment rate way below that of non-disabled adults demonstrates the continued need to address disability-related inequality.
Research: My doctoral research explores the experiences of disabled employees, with the aim of understanding how reactions to organisational factors impact on affectivity. In other words, how what happens at work effects disabled people and what impact this has on the relationship with their employer, co-workers, motivation and wellbeing.
Research has already established that negative affectivity can have a significant impact on motivation, commitment, engagement, turnover intentions, and absenteeism. However there is little research that combines these psychological factors with the difficulties many disabled employees face in the workplace. Interpersonal relationships, organisational decision making, the reasonable adjustment process, job design and supervisor/coworker support are all essential elements to success in work. Yet there is surprisingly little research that balances the experiences of disabled people with organisational context.
To further expand on current research I work with disable people with a so-called hidden impairment. This term is used loosely to refer to those disabled people who are not identified by a physical characteristic; which is either part of their impairment or by the use of an aid (e.g. a wheelchair, cane or electronic device). Mental illness, chronic illness, visual, auditory or cognitive impairments are all examples of ‘hidden disabilities’. It is worthy to note that my research argues against the use of this term and instead favours a typology of non-visible, non-apparent impairments. These are characterised as being either physically or cognitively based and identified by behavioural or postural cues. For example an individual with a traumatic brain injury who has an impaired memory will have no physical identifier. Yet clearly they might be identified if they struggle to hold a conversation that is effected by poor memory. Therefore even though the impairment is non-visible it can still be very apparent and therefore identified.