Un/covering: Making Disability Identity Legible

Authors

  • Heather Dawn Evans University of Washington

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v37i1.5556

Keywords:

Invisible disability, covering, uncovering, disability identity, acquired impairment

Abstract

This article examines one aspect of disability identity among people with non-apparent or "invisible" disabilities: the decision to emphasize, remind others about, or openly acknowledge impairment in social settings. I call this process "un/covering," and situate this concept in the sociological and Disability Studies literature on disability stigma, passing, and covering. Drawing on interviews with people who have acquired a non-apparent impairment through chronic illness or injury, I argue that decisions to un/cover (after a disability disclosure has already been made) play a pivotal role for this group in developing a strong, positive disability identity and making that identity legible to others. Decisions to pass, cover, or un/cover are ongoing decisions that stitch together the fabric of each person's daily life experiences, thus serving as primary mechanisms for identity negotiation and management.

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Published

2017-03-07

Issue

Section

(Il)Legibility