“What should I say to my employer… if anything?"- My disability disclosure dilemma

Jennifer Marshall, Colm Fearon, Marianne Highwood, Katy Warden

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The purpose of this paper is to explore the key issues surrounding teacher/staff disability disclosures in the UK's further education (FE) sector.


In total, 15 semi-structured interviews were conducted in a medium-sized FE college (case study) setting in the South East of England. To compare the experiences, views and perceptions of leaders, managers and teachers, interviews were carried out with leaders and managers who are accountable for ensuring disability legislation is adhered to, and with teachers who are responsible for complying with equality and disability legislation. The 15 interviewees who volunteered to take part in this research represent the various layers of the organisational structure and different academic departments in the college.


Two major themes discussed include: the desire for teaching staff to “come out” and make a disability disclosure and the perception of disability as a “deficit”. A number of staff that disclosed their hidden disabilities stated they would not do so again. To avoid the negative side effects, developing a “culture of disability disclosure” and providing long-term employer support are required.

Research limitations/implications

This is an exploratory qualitative case study that highlights some of the key issues from a teacher/staff perspective. It is not meant to be generalisable research, but the ideas therein should help to develop a wider (empirical) research agenda.


There is an abundance of critical and sociological research concerning disability disclosure in general; there are also a number of scholarly studies that focus on disability issues from the student perspective. However, this is the first scholarly study that explores the key issues involving FE staff.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1105-1117
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Management
Issue number7
Early online date28 Apr 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Apr 2020


  • ableism
  • disability disclosure
  • further education
  • labelling theory
  • teachers


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