Special?

It makes me so sad I cannot share many job adverts, let alone apply for numerous jobs. Because so many employers still seem unaware that the language they use is really off putting to disabled people and their allies. When I read ‘super star’ and ‘very special’ I shudder. Celebrating the more ‘’abled” tells me I’m not wanted. Conversely it seems to leave important skills ignored. Do organisations not require workers who are experienced, knowledgeable and professional? People who maybe don’t see themselves as enthusiastic, outgoing or extrovert.

I’m working with Inclusion Scotland at the moment. One of our first recommendation to employers keen to recruit disabled workers is too make sure adverts are worded in ways that encourage applications from disabled individuals. To this end, we suggest dropping personality-type descriptions in favour of demonstrable skills, expertise and knowledge that can be evidenced by candidates at interview. When I read ‘super star’ I recoil. Furthermore, how could anyone prove it? Having interviewed many professionals myself, I’ve noticed how easy it is for people to brag at interview and then fail to deliver on the hyperbole on the job.  Surely there are more important skills and expertise you could ask for than ‘special’.

While this might sound like a disability thing, I think it’s about best and inclusive practice more generally.  

Cartoon of mole in a wheelchair shouting noooo

It is greatly unfair that disabled people, their networks, communities and organisational [D/deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations] need to keep fighting to redress what is continually ignored. 30 years I’ve campaigned, worked and participated in a movement for change. I’m running low on fight, humour and energy.

Accepting a call to consider disabled people’s interests as a reality for practice raises issues of social justice relating to society and the environment. Dismissing the individual is bad enough, but denying the growing strength of an anti-ableist narrative because it is too complex or too complicated, is to ignore an interpretation of oppression that only serves to hurt us all. To prevent the extent of existing human rights abuse, a collective pressure from many areas is needed, one that has recognises disabled people’s authority to demand change.  Daily anti-ableist activity is akin to moving forward while rubbing your tummy, patting your head and talking about the future. While the different activities addresses diverse priorities, they happen together, as interdependent movements with an overall legitimate intent to account for those marginalised by society. 

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