I don’t put ‘disabled’ in my Twitter bio for the same reason I don’t put it on my resume

If you’re no stranger to social media, particularly the spectacular vortex that is Twitter, you may be familiar with the concept I’m about to talk about.

In their Twitter bios, some people will list (along with their title or profession) a whole string of identity-related attributes such as sexuality, ethnicity and even disability.

As to the last example, you will notice that I have not done so. I’m here to tell you why.

1. I don’t need to

 

Getting straight to the point, my main reason for not overtly identifying as disabled is quite simple – I don’t need to.

I make no secret of hiding my image, and if you take one look at any photo of me, let alone meet me, your assumption that I am disabled would not only be immediate but correct.

I spend most of my waking days in a wheelchair, and I have pretty visible facial differences.

I’d argue; further that my surrounding environments make me disabled, but I’ll get to that in a second.

Not once in my life have I ever had to convince a person that I am disabled – except Centrelink when they made me fill out all those forms so I could claim a pension, nightmare.

While I completely understand that many people with invisible disabilities and illnesses will struggle with the problem of not being believed, my problem tends to swing in the other direction.

My abilities are constantly underestimated, to the point where stating that I’m disabled seems redundant.

It’s incredibly frustrating, especially after all that I’ve accomplished in my life so far, when I’m still talked down to, ignored or underestimated on my abilities.

That is why I aim to emanate self-confidence and highlight all the things I can do and all the things that I am, besides being disabled.

Like an ABC journalist!

2. This isn’t a ‘me’ problem

 

There is this movement around disabled people proudly identifying as disabled, and I understand the reasoning.

It takes a lot of effort to be seen and heard sometimes, and the way to find solutions is to start by demanding attention to the fact that there is a problem in the first place.

I agree with this premise.

I also subscribe to the ‘Social Model of Disability’, which says that disability is not the result of something wrong with us (disabled people) but rather a function of the attitudes, behaviours and environmental barriers in society that prevent us from living a life like anyone else.

With that in mind, when it comes to identifying anything, it’s more important that I use any platform I have to highlight the inadequacies in my environment rather than point out what is “wrong” with me.

3. You don’t need to know

 

Finally, I want to add, as the title of this article suggests, why would I put “disabled” in my online bios if I don’t put it in my resume?

I mainly use my social media platform as a networking tool for my career. I try to put my best foot forward and portray myself the way I want any (future) employer or colleagues to view me.

That’s not to say that I am ashamed of my disability, and as I said, it’s not exactly a secret.

It’s just an unnecessary detail that doesn’t affect my abilities professionally. Nor is it information I necessarily owe anyone.

If and when it does become relevant to disclose my disabled-ness to somebody, it will be on my terms and in a context like, for example, discussing whether an event is accessible.

I would never judge or discourage a person from publicly identifying as disabled in online portfolios; we all have different viewpoints shaped by our individual experiences.

In this case, it’s just not for me.

Claudia Forsberg is a Melbourne based writer and journalist. She is currently studying for a bachelor’s degree in communication (Journalism) at RMIT University.

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