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Not all disability is visible

In the UK, 1 in 5 people have a disability (as defined by the Equality Act 2010), 80 per cent of which can’t be seen.

The majority of physical and mental health conditions as well as many learning, behavioural and developmental disabilities are therefore not visible or immediately obvious to others. Speech and language difficulties, reduced sight, chronic fatigue syndrome, colitis, autism, depression, migraine and asthma are just a few examples of hidden disabilities. There are many, many more.

The issue of hidden disability is important because, although we have come a long way in recent years partly due to the success of the sunflower scheme, the idea that ‘real’ disability can be seen is still widespread. This means that members living and working with hidden impairments sometimes struggle to get their disability taken seriously by managers and others.

Chronic pain, breathlessness, dizziness, chronic fatigue, hearing difficulties, anxiety and experiencing difficulties communicating or with concentration, memory and mood – all of these symptoms are invisible but that doesn’t make them any less real.

Given this, it’s more important than ever, that Usdaw gives reps the tools they need to support members with a hidden disability and to spread the word that disabled members with invisible impairments have the same rights at work as those with a visible disability. To do this, Usdaw has launched new ‘Not all disability is visible’ campaign materials with leaflets, a new poster and a couple of giveaways. The campaign is a very visible reminder to members who might be struggling at work because of a disability that isn’t visible to talk to Usdaw.


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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers