Stanley, Nicky, Ridley, Julie, Harris, Jessica and Manthorpe, Jill
Disclosing disability in the context of professional regulation: a qualitative UK study.
Disability and Society, 26
In the UK, the ‘fitness to practice’ criteria that allow regulatory bodies to use health standards to restrict entry to the human professions have resulted in some disabled people being excluded from this workforce. Disclosure of disability is therefore a risky process for those aiming to practice or train in nursing, social work and teaching. This research, commissioned to inform the Disability Rights Commission's Formal Investigation into fitness standards in the professions, was undertaken in 2006–07 and explored experiences of disability disclosure amongst professionals. Interviews with 60 practitioners and students, most of whom had unseen disabilities, revealed considerable variations in the extent of disclosure. Disclosure was perceived as having the potential to exclude participants from their chosen profession. Two overlapping models of disability disclosure emerged from data analysis. The study concludes that abolishing health standards for the professions would increase disability disclosure and decrease the stigma associated with disability.