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Working as an Invisibly Disabled Person

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[This Blog Post is a part of a Creative Project Assignment for an Academic Course]

Hello Everyone,

Welcome to The Invisible Vision Project’s Blog.

In today’s blog, let’s have a conversation about work. Since, this is a topic I have not talked with all of you about. Work, is often considered an important part of one’s life, at least, this is true for most of us. The legal age to work in where I live in Canada is sixteen years old. By this age, most teenagers would be expected by their parents to go out and start looking for part-time and/or summer jobs. For the most part, this is a way to gain some real-life work experiences; and, for the other, it is also a way to gain some income- a step forward in becoming an independent adult. In my personal experience with work, I’m (probably) considered extremely inexperienced; I’ve only worked in a total of 4 jobs thus far. Regardless, I want to share with you about my experiences with work, as a person with a seemingly less obvious/visible disability.

I also started working at a slightly later age than the average teenagers did. And, my first job may even be a little different than most young people’s first job. So, I worked in the 3D animation creation field in my first job, and, I absolutely LOVED it! However, I will admit, as a starter, I had nearly zero experiences and skills to work in this field. But, what I do have for sure is this huge passion and interest in 3D animation. And, I was a chosen candidate because I had great connections: I have friends and allies, that makes getting into a job much easier than people without this kind of connections. However, you may also be questioning: how is it possible for a blind girl like me to work in a field that is so visual? Well, the answer to that is because, my eye sight was just slightly better than it is now. And, during my time working in 3D animation creation, I didn’t have too much trouble with the work itself, simply because, the work is mostly done online through using a few very specific and easy-to-learn and adapt software.

For my second and third jobs, they were (one way or another) linked. Both were work-study positions from the university where I study at. I got my very first work-study position at the end of my second year in university. I was offered a job as a receptionist in a Clinical Education Centre (CEC) in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy. I really enjoyed working in this job; my supervisor and other staff working in the centre were very kind and great people to work with. The work itself was also very straightforward, which includes but not limited to: answering/making phone calls, appointment booking and checking in, checking rooms at the end of the shift, etc., the typical receptionist job. Occasionally, I was asked to do some desk and table setup and rearrangement, which was slightly labor intensive, but, I would never be doing this task alone. And, what I especially liked about working in the CEC was that it’s allowed and even encouraged to do our own school work during quite working hours or shifts. This was good because, it was almost like multi-tasking, in a good way- gaining work experience, getting paid, and even getting some school work done!

While, I was working in the CEC, I also became interested and curious about working in a library. I had a friend told me about a possible job opening, so, I applied and was offered a job right after. At first, I was a bit intimidated of working in the library; it wasn’t as easy or as fun as I had imagined. The library is a much bigger space that involved more interactions with not only university students but also, occasionally, with university faculties and sometimes, even with community members as well. I will be honest, I didn’t really enjoy working at the front counter of the library, I found it to be too busy and overwhelming for me to handle, and, that had made me uncomfortable at times. However, what I did enjoy working in the library was working as a book shelver. During my last year of working in the library, I was the only designated shelver and my job was to come to the library and shelve books, that was a much flexible and manageable task for me.

Overall, my experiences with most of my jobs I worked were satisfying. But, this is not to say that I never encountered any challenges or difficulties while working. There is something I haven’t told you about. That is, I was working while being invisibly disabled. During my time working as a 3D animation creator, I had never mentioned about my disability. Then, during my time working as a receptionist and a library assistant, I didn’t start disclosing my disability almost until the end, when I was about to leave those jobs.

Nonetheless, what I also want to emphasize is that: disclosing my disability was solely a personal choice, and, a personal “readiness.” Fortunately, I had, not even once, felt I was discriminated by my employers because of disclosing my disability. When I came out to talk with my supervisors about my disability (for my second and third jobs), I was treated with respect, kindness, and positive encouragements. My supervisors were slightly surprised that it never occurred to them I am visually impaired, they were rather impressed with my courage to come out to face my disability. And, they were very willing to accommodate me in any way possible. But, it was rather because of me that I didn’t know how else I could be accommodated (I didn’t know how to advocate for myself UNTIL I work as an activist). Soon after, I left my work-study jobs because I had then started working on a new career, that is, what I call this very important work that I do in disability activism. As much as I loved my previous jobs, I knew I had to put them behind and it’s time to move on, so I did.

To conclude, I don’t consider myself as someone with an experienced work history. But, I do consider myself as having quite an interesting and somewhat varied work experiences. Work, for me, isn’t just about the work itself or the money/pay cheque; it is more about the meaning. I think, the biggest reason why I would rather leave all my other jobs, to work in disability activism, that’s because, I find so much purpose in this work. I now have this passion to do advocacy work and to be a public speaker. I also know, I can succeed in doing this work than in any other kind of work. And, for as a stubborn person as I am, I will only do what makes me comfortable and confident; and, I wouldn’t allow any one to say otherwise.

So, this concludes today’s blog. Thank you for Reading to the End!

By: The Invisible Vison Project


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