"Not wishing to be the white rhino in the crowd" : disability-disclosure at university"Not wishing to be the white rhino in the crowd" : disability-disclosure at university
Faculty of Arts. Linguistics and Literature
Applied Language Studies
Journal of language and social psychology. - Clevedon, 1982, currens
34(2015):2, p. 158-180
University of Antwerp
This article reports on a qualitative study identifying the drivers for and boundaries to disability-disclosure in interability interactions as experienced by 13 students with physical impairments at five Belgian higher education institutions. Through surveys and in-depth interviews, the study explored whether the students experience, prefer, and expect differences in communication about their impairments with temporarily able-bodied peers, instructors, and staff. Interviews provided insight into the nuances of disclosure and topic avoidance decisions that differ by disclosure target: disability-disclosure is mainly a balancing act between fulfilling physical needs and maintaining a normal, positive identity. The visibility of impairments seems to play a minor role in the students' initial orientation toward disclosing. The functions of disability-disclosure as posited by the Communication Predicament of Disability Model and the CARE-keys to effective interability communication (i.e., Contact, Ask, Respect, Empathy) are discussed as well as the implications of the findings for Communication Accommodation Theory.