Disability and Accommodation

Existing Disability

Depending on the nature of your disability, at times it can feel stressful and challenging with having to manage the effects of a disability in the workplace.  This can be particularly true if you are faced with barriers such as negative attitudes and stereotypical beliefs by others about people with disabilities.  Or maybe there are added challenges with acquiring the necessary accommodation for your disability, resulting in attention and energy inappropriately being focused away from your job and your home life.  In the case of a hidden disability, it can sometimes feel tiresome having to remind supervisors and/or colleagues over and over again about your disability and your particular needs. Some people with disabilities say they worry that talking about their disability at work with colleagues in fear  that it may appear like they are playing the “pity” card or trying to get out of doing work or taking on certain responsibilities.

It can be quite helpful at times to discuss these feelings with someone in a place where you are safe to express your frustrations, fears and concerns without worry about how it might reflect on you with colleagues or managers.  It can also be helpful to develop strategies to assist with navigating the bureaucracy to ensure you are appropriately accommodating in the workplace, as is your entitlement.

Acquired Disability

Acquiring a disability can be a very stressful and traumatic process, depending on the nature of the disability and the kind of impact it may have on your day-to-day activities.  In addition to the possibility of having to deal with some of the issues described above, you may be coping with loss of capacity to do things that you were once able to do.  After a certain period of time has passed, people in your life may start having expectations of you to “get over it and move on”.  This can be particularly stressful especially if on the outside you appear as if you are coping well but on the inside, you are struggling with feelings of loss, isolation, loneliness, etc. 

Again, it is always good to connect with someone you feel safe with to lay all of those feelings on the table without being concerned about eliciting ridicule, pity, fear, etc.  Sometimes it is very helpful to know your rights as an employee as this can be reassuring when you are working with colleagues and managers in acquiring the necessary accommodation so that you can continue working.  Many people who acquire a disability are not sure about their rights as an employee with a disability or about the appropriate process to follow in order to make their needs known.  Having support during this process from an objective, external support service can be critically important in managing whatever emotional stress you may be experiencing.

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