Every single meeting or class always has introductions. In this video, I share some thoughts on how I incorporate informing others about my disability when I introduce myself in a group setting like this. The example I give is related to my hearing loss, but can be adapted to whatever your disability is or to whatever is relevant in the context. The key to a successful introduction here is to tell people, quickly, what they can DO to help you rather than educating them generally about your disability. I recommend focusing on actionable behaviors because there’s little time and people cannot retain a lot of information during introductions.
While my vision impairment is a big deal in my life, in a meeting room that is well-lit and in an environment that I know well like my organization’s office, I don’t encounter many obstacles related to my vision in that setting. So I speak about my hearing impairment in my introduction. When I visit a new fitness studio and I introduce myself to the instructor, I talk about both my vision and hearing. And I still focus on the few key things I need them to do to help me. I probably have a 2-3 sentence spiel ready to go for every setting: a yoga class, boxing class, networking event, dance party, birthday dinner at a restaurant, work happy hour, and so many more.
I used to not be as upfront about my disabilities with new people. Maybe that came from wanting to appear “normal”, from still having an emotional struggle with sharing that I was going blind, or just fear from not having enough experience communicating about it. How would people react? How would they treat me?
Now, I have enough experience doing this to see that disclosing my disability to new people in a confident way helps me to have a better experience and more inclusion overall.
What do you think about this video? Do you incorporate your disability in your introductions? Comment below! 👇🏽
Description: In both videos, Catarina is wearing glasses and a black shirt with her hair pulled back. She is sitting on a couch in front of a colorful painting.