Individuals with disability who are looking for work will have to consider whether or not they want to disclose their disability to their future employer. Before you make a decision about disclosure, it is important to understand the facts and to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of disclosing your disability.
What is Disclosure?
If you choose to disclose, you are making a decision to release confidential information about your disability to your employer. No one can force you into disclosing and only you can make the decision to tell your future boss or supervisor. It is against the law for a supervisor to make you disclose. Your disability will remain confidential until YOU decided to tell others about your disability.
Who can disclose?
YOU and only you. No one can force you to disclose. Once you learn the advantages and disadvantages of disclosing, you have to make a personal decision about whether or not you want to tell your supervisor about your disability. If you do share your disability, your supervisor cannot treat you any differently. In fact, it is illegal to discriminate against an individual because he or she has a disability. However, your supervisor can only offer accommodations (extra support given to an individual to ensure he or she can complete the job based on their needs) after you disclose your disability. Again, disclosing is a personal choice and you are never required to tell anyone about your disability.
When should I disclose?
There is no perfect time to disclose your disability. Since disclosure is a personal decision, you get to decide if and when you want to tell your supervisor. Here are just a few suggestions of when you can disclose, if you decide you want to:
- In a cover letter
- During an interview
- After an interview
- After you have been hired
- During training
- In an email or during a phone call
- At any time during your employment
Remember, if you choose to disclose, you can decide when and what to tell your employer. There may not be a perfect time to disclose, but if you decide to, you should always prepare what you want to say before you meet with your supervisor.
How should I disclose?
After you have thought about the advantages and disadvantages of disclosing, you are ready to make a decision. If you are willing to tell your supervisor about your disability, you should schedule a meeting with your supervisor and plan what it is you want to say. It is wise to practice what you want to say as well. Talk over the decision with a trusted friend or family member but don’t forget, no matter what your support team will say, the final decision to disclose is yours.
When you think about disclosure, there are two things to remember. First, it is your choice. Second, disclosure is nothing to be embarrassed about because your disability is nothing to be embarrassed about. You have a special skills that set you apart from others and that is not a bad thing. Your specific skills, interests, and personality landed you the job in the first place. You are unique and qualified for the job at hand. And now YOU have a choice to make.
About the Author:
Erin Kelly is an Employment Specialist at Search, Inc. and one of our jjslist.com on-line job coaches. Erin helps people with disabilities find and keep jobs. If there is something you’d like Erin to address in a future blog, let her know at email@example.com.