I READ with interest Margaret McCulloch’s Agenda column (“Much to be done to win workplace quality for our ethnic minorities) about the employment problems faced by ethnic minorities.

I am disabled, and thus, am also in a minority, to whom almost every word – and certainly every sentiment – of the article could be applied.

Though I have had similar qualifications to many of my erstwhile colleagues, I was not invited for interviews. Workplace discrimination can be very subtle – hooray, someone has at last admitted this – with the result that without effective remedies, no amount of assistance with CV writing, interview techniques or Department of Work and Pension “carrot and stick” incentives will make the slightest difference. We might, by some miracle, find a job, but how to keep it is the six million dollar question, a question that most able-bodied enforcers politely ignore.

People who are deemed “disabled” are labelled thus by medics, politicians and others, who, no matter how well meaning, think it is perfectly acceptable to ask “‘What is wrong with you?” and expect a civil answer. They like to put people in boxes, to “know what to expect” and so continue to indulge in all manner of conduct which, from the public at large would be deemed offensive, and rightly so. The “see me” campaign, and many like it, make this point very clearly. We are not our disabilities.

If I saw a woman on the street who looked “ordinary”, I would be considered grossly offensive if I asked her “Can you go to the toilet without assistance?” and yet, because I have a conspicuous disability – which puts me at a disadvantage in all sorts of subtle and none too subtle ways – I am expected to identify with it, explain it, and ignore it.

Identify with it, because that was the first label was given –- “I’m sorry, your daughter has cerebral palsy” - which became the only thing I identified about myself for decades, and a heavy burden to carry, which completely ignored everything I can do, and all the other good things about me.

Explain it, because almost every government department I have dealings with expects me to elucidate for them – for the thousandth time – just how much I am actually disabled, before they will provide me with basic financial help and “concessionary” services. I don't want or seek concessions. I merely look for equal treatment. It seems that these days, unless we are almost totally incapacitated, we can expect no sympathy from these information gatherers, so convinced are they of the rightness of their “inclusive social and workplace policies”.

And ignore it? Because the Government, in its naivety, tells me it has all these wonderful new laws and workplace policies to discourage workplace bullying, harassment, discrimination, low pay, and so on. So while unsavoury conduct continues, I must pretend it does not, and run the gamut of a hundred conflicting expectations.

Fran McIlvey,

Flat 3, 47 North Meggetland, Edinburgh.