Posts Tagged ‘Invisible disability’

So you’re saying I don’t count?

September 8, 2010

I was taking a survey over the weekend – no, not one of those answer three questions and win a free iPad! surveys – but a survey from a major national polling company. You’ll see them on the evening news occasionally.  Everything was going smoothly until I got to this question:

Do you have any of the following health concerns? (Please check all that apply)


Multiple Sclerosis

High Blood Pressure

High Cholesterol






Tourette Syndrome


Cystic Fibrosis


Parkinson’s disease


Growth Hormone Deficiency


Muscular Dystrophy

ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Erectile Dysfunction




Noise Induced Deafness

Hearing Impaired


Bipolar Disorder


Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Lactose Intolerant

Other (Specify:)


Refuse to Answer

So naturally, I check OTHER and type in Congenital Heart Defect. The survey form is not impressed:

ERROR: Cannot find variable:TEXT__Q6005_AE
Please change your answer.

So I try again, with Congenital Heart Disease.

ERROR: Cannot find variable:TEXT__Q6005_AE
Please change your answer.

Uh-huh… Mr. Computer, I’d love to change my answer, but that is just not possible!

Try again: Tricuspid Atresia

ERROR: Cannot find variable:TEXT__Q6005_AE
Please change your answer.

What was probably happening was that question was a “branch question”… the survey form is programmed to ask additional questions based on your answer. But it was disheartening to find that the database didn’t even recognize America’s leading birth defect. Shoot, most of the Acquired Heart Diseases are left out, too. The only thing that qualifies is high blood pressure. (That’s a good hint that this is a branch question – answer high blood pressure and the next question probably will be about the medications you are taking for it.)

In the end, I chose refused to answer since I do have a pretty serious health concern but it is not on their list. The next to the last question was Can you think of any way we can improve this survey?

Why yes, now that you’ve asked…..!