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Anosmia: an invisible disability

Published on
14 November 2016

Anosmia is the loss of the sense of smell. It affects 5% of the people across the world. There is no health-care system to support it. Neva Bojovic discusses what anosmia is and the difficulties of the recognition for this disability.

Imagine a home audio equipment company promoting their new, cutting-edge sound system. The company uses a humorous advertising campaign and warns people that after they try their new product and hear all the wonderful sounds, they will realise they have been #earblind their entire life.

Or, imagine a TV brand tweeting about a new model that allows you to see every colour perfectly. They promote it using a hashtag and promise people will not feel #eyedeaf anymore.

If a company mocked deafness or blindness like this, there would rightly be an immediate backlash from affected populations and advocacy organisations, probably resulting in an apology – and the end of the offending campaign.

But for the past two years, Procter & Gamble has been promoting its home freshener product, Febreze, using a “mockumentary” style campaign to warn people that they might have become “noseblind” to bad smells in their houses. It notes that other people can indeed smell their bad odours and will judge them.

Luckily for those “noseblind” people, the company provides a solution. A series of videos, starring actors and displaying a funny “noseblindness” intervention have had more than one million views so far on Youtube.

The problem is that “noseblindness” is a real condition: it’s called anosmia, and more than 5% of people across the world suffer from it. By making fun of their everyday problems, the campaign has offended people who have no sense of smell, appropriating their disability and turning it into a hashtag.

Unfortunately for people with anosmia, their problems aren’t so easily solved: the condition has no cure.

Read the complete article on TheConversation Global website

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