Blogging Against Disablism Day – My Annual Rant #BADD2015

Is this disablism? I don’t know. In this article (rant?) I will discuss how I believe that society – at least, that part of it that is responsible for employing people – is engaging in disablism. OK, it is a rant; if you don’t want a rant, please go Google for “fluffy bunnies,” or something.

This rant is about employment, and my perceived failure of most organisations to employ purely on the basis of talent, and potential output, rather than the ability to turn up to a specified location, then go home a certain number of hours later (without specifying what needs to be achived within this time.)

Let’s try to summarise my personal position, from the point of view of a potential employer, at least, let’s look at the “obvious” negatives:

  • Can work only 12-16 hours per week. (More than that, my eyes get well, and truly buggered.)
  • Can’t drive distance – even the process of driving a relatively short distance to work would impact on my ability to do said work.
  • Frequently sick.
  • Can’t always tell one day to the next whether I will be able to work the next day.

Read these, think what they imply. And, when I say imply, I mean what would common prejudice imply? You may notice that one word I do not address above is “productivity.” Because I am anything but unproductive:

  • I have been told by many people that I work incredibly fast; I also don’t take chat/coffee/smoke/watching porn/more chat/more coffee/unspecified indolence breaks. [If I stop working, I stop the clock. Always.] Hours != work accomplished.
  • I work from home; this means that, when required, I can generally jump on top of urgent work at times when the office-bound couldn’t.
  • I only don’t work when I am so incapacitated that I can’t even crawl into a recliner and work (can’t remember the last time that happened,) and only veto work entirely, when I am so feverish, and/or brain-fogged that I would be likely to make so many mistakes that working would result in negative productivity. [Yes, I’ve been there, I know my limits, I know when to quit.]
  • I don’t have fixed working days – or hours. It all evens out. Unless I have promised to do something at a fixed time and can’t (very rare,) clients never know; well, actually they probably will – because I keep them informed even if there is no impact to what is being done.

I could summarise the above by saying that I can do my job proficiently, and deliver on promises as well as the next person – but how would this be read by the likes of recruiters, and HR people? Do they have the training (the quality of recruiters I’ve come across says “no way,” from that aspect) to see what a person can deliver, or do they just look at the traditional model of employment – that draws in any number of incompetents, and time wasters? Is a failure to assess what someone has to offer in terms of output, rather than anything else, and to accommodate those who may have specific needs to achieve that output (like working from home,) not discrimination, not disablism?

I have (so far,) managed to keep my head above water (just,) but I often feel trapped: if I don’t have enough business to pay the bills, I don’t have the energy, or other resources that the fully able-bodied do, to get a part-time job, run a marketing campaign, or whatever. But, above all, I can’t just go, and get a job. And I don’t ever want to be unproductive. (I also don’t see myself ever retiring; I can’t think of anything worse than not working, even if it’s on my own projects, of which I have many.)

Where is the discrimination? Totally engrained in society, as far as I’m concerned. But I think I’ve got it lucky; sure, I’ve got health issues that impact my employability, in a conventional arena, BUT, I’m a white, cis/hetero, English-speaking (and born) male. Now consider my situation in an intersectional context – what if I were coloured, female, LGBTQIA, on top of my issues? That I will leave you, good reader, to ponder.

End of rant. You may enjoy this article A History of Disability: from 1050 to the Present Day, if you want something less ranty. (Thanks to @starrysez for the link.)

More BADD goodness available at Diary of a Goldfish. (Kudos to her, and Mister Goldfish, for keeping this thing going.)

3 thoughts on “Blogging Against Disablism Day – My Annual Rant #BADD2015

  1. NTE

    Agreed: there’s a lot of stuff that’s just considered “well, that’s how it IS” that, if we really rethought it in the context of disabled people, would make a huge difference to our employment rate.

  2. The Goldfish

    Thanks for contributing to Blogging Against Disablism Day – it’s good to see you around.

    It’s strange, as soon as people began to have the internet in their homes, there was heralded a revolution in the way we work. Loads of people, they said, would be working at home for at least some of their time. There would be fewer cars on the road every morning and evening and businesses would be more efficient . Disabled people, folk with small children or caring responsibilities would be better able to have jobs, share jobs and so forth.

    And almost twenty years on, it’s still very rare. There are, of course, many jobs that can’t be done at home, in a person’s own time, and for some people, it’s just bloody hard to work at home (either because of what their home is like, or what they’re like – some people work better around other people). But it’s still, so much of it is about traditional ways of working, traditional models of “performance”.

    It’s one of those things where I hope things will change a lot, and when they do, everyone will wonder why it wasn’t already happening now.

    1. smiffy Post author

      Thanks for the feedback!

      Yup, home working won’t work for all, in the same way that “going to work” can’t work for me. It all comes back to flexibility, and giving people what they need to allow them to be at their most productive – whether this be working from home, or a quiet corner because, whilst they can get to work, they may not be able to function with the distraction of a noisy, open-plan office.

      And, thanks again, for making the whole BADD thing happen.

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