But as I heard other people's stories and began to look into the stigmas associated with other hidden disabilities, I realized that indeed it takes a tremendous amount of bravery to come clean about hearing loss (the stigma of age), epilepsy (fear of witnessing a seizure and stigma of being strange and unpredictable), mental illness (stereotypical ideas about erratic behavior, being a danger to others).
In the workplace, disclosure about any one of these and other hidden disabilities is a calculated decision. Do the benefits outweigh the possible costs? Although people with acknowledged disabilities are protected under the Americans With Disabilities act, there are many other ways of getting rid of an employee you're uncomfortable with: he or she is not a team player, doesn't seem interested in the work, doesn't volunteer to work overtime or long hours.
I wrote about my own decision to acknowledge my loss in an article published this month in Hearing Loss Magazine. It's not available online but you can read it on my Psychology Today blog. Just click on the words in blue, or here.