Balancing attendance and disclosure: identity work of students with invisible disabilities

Adi Sapir, Adi Banai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite increasing societal awareness of the challenges faced by students with disabilities, students with invisible disabilities have received relatively little attention. This study explores these students’ experiences, relying on interviews with 15 participants with various invisible disabilities who recently attended Israeli higher education institutions. Drawing on the analytical perspective of identity work, we explore how participants negotiate and construct their identities as students in the physical and sociocultural environments of higher education. We show that participants largely practice identity work over two continua: between presence and absence in academic spaces; and between revealing and concealing their disabilities in the context of an institutional climate underpinned by values of individualism, competition, and performativity. Through this spatial and discursive identity work, students construct their identities as abled and capable students and foster their sense of belonging in a prevailing ableist academic culture.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalDisability and Society
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • chronic illness
  • disclosure
  • higher education
  • invisible disability
  • students

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • General Health Professions
  • General Social Sciences


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