The hashtag missing from this article is #disability. Some chronic illnesses rise to the level of being disabling. Sometimes people think they aren’t disabled by a chronic illness, but if you look at the US federal government definition of disability (which is in part “someone who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more ‘major life activities’ — where major life activities is later defined as manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working) it is clear that most of the people in this article would be entitled to reasonable accommodations. Whether or not they choose to ask for them is a whole other issue entirely.

What organizations need to do to remove the stigma around reasonable accommodations is to ask everyone, all the time, whether or not they need them whether or not they look disabled. When people are onboarded or transfered or get a new manager. During their annual performance review. When people come back from leave for ANY reason. There are way more disabled people out there than anyone thinks, and many of them are trying to “pass” in the workplace.

Written by

Accessibility Architect @ VMware. W3C Silver, ITI & IAAP GLC committees. Degrees in CS, law, business. Wheelchair user w/ a deaf daughter.

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