How could I encourage others with disabilities to be open when I wasn’t?

Amanda Bradbury, from Department for Work and Pensions, talks about making the choice to be open about her stammer.

It was only very recently I acknowledged that I have a disability. I have a stammer. I’ve had a stammer since childhood and over the years I’ve learned how to manage it.

If you met me you probably wouldn’t realise. Why haven’t I acknowledged this before? I honestly don’t know. I suppose part of it was embarrassment and because, lets be honest, not many of us like to show others we can be vulnerable – especially in the workplace.

There are a few reasons why I’ve decided now is the right time for me to be open about my disability. I’m involved in a Civil Service Local Diversity and Inclusion Network and thought how could I encourage others with disabilities to be open when I wasn’t? I was also inspired by the former shadow chancellor Ed Balls (I’m a huge strictly come dancing fan!) who recently discussed his own stammer on a radio show. I thought if someone in the public eye could have the confidence to talk about his own speech difficulties then so could I. Finally, age not only brings wrinkles but experience and a confidence I didn’t have when I was younger.

My hope is that by being open about my stammer, I encourage others in the same position to do the same. Some years ago I was placed in a job role that involved me delivering training courses. At the time this was my worst nightmare – even with a very well controlled stammer. Instead of being open with my then line manager and talking through my anxieties and asking for support, I worked myself into such a state I ended up paying for hypnotherapy to help me overcome my fears.

How different an experience this would have been had I had the courage to ask for help. For anyone else in a similar position, I would urge you to take the plunge ask for help. Finally, don’t let your stammer hold you back.

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