Stigmatizing Effects of Visible Versus Invisible Disabilities

Noel Ysasi, Alicia Becton, Roy Chen


The concept of disability is complex and has been interpreted in a variety of ways. The degree to which a disorder is “disabling†depends on the interchange between the condition and other factors including the individual’s environment. Modern society’s emphasis on self-sufficiency and productivity contribute to the tendency to devalue those who are perceived as unable from these valued characteristics. Research suggests the visibility of a condition may lead to stigmatization, a concept generally associated with feelings of shame due to discontentment and devaluation of others. The authors present literature related to persons with visible and invisible disabilities, and the stigmatizing effects, while demonstrating the varying nature of stigma related to hiring practices and deliberate concealment, a phenomenon known well among persons with invisible disabilities. Additionally, the societal attitudes which lead to common barriers, negative experiences among persons with disabilities, and implications for practitioners are discussed.



disability; stigma; self-efficacy; employment

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ISSN: 2454-6623