PAVE Questions & Answers: When to Disclose Your Disability

Post Date:September 21, 2017

When to disclose your disability: 

There is no "right" time or place to disclose your disability. Select a confidential place and allow enough time for the person to ask questions. Do not focus on the limitations of your disability. Weigh the pros and cons of disclosure at each point of your job search, recruitment and hiring process and make the decision to discuss your disability when it is appropriate for you. Consider the following stages: 
 
Before the interview: Disclosing your disability at this stage in the hiring process can mean less stress about hiding your condition and it allows you to be honest. However, there is always a risk that your disclosure might prevent your employment. 
 
At the interview: Disclosing your disability at this stage allows for the opportunity to not only educate others about your condition, but also provides them a chance to ask questions. Discrimination may still exist due to a lack of knowledge about your condition.  
 
After you have a job offer: Disclosing your disability at this stage allows for reasonable accommodations to be made in consideration of your condition. However, you may become ostracized by your co-workers after revealing your condition during this stage.

How to disclose your disability:

Preparation is key for disclosing your disability. Effective disclosure requires that you discuss your needs, and that you provide practical suggestions for any accommodations. Generally, if you choose to disclose, it is most helpful to share the following:  

  1. General information about your disability 
  2. Why you are disclosing your disability

  3. How your disability affects your ability to perform key job tasks

  4. Types of accommodations that have worked for you in the past

  5. Types of accommodations that you anticipate needing in the workplace

One way to become comfortable talking about your disability is to practice. Consider developing a disclosure script: 
 
"I have a medical condition that sometimes interferes with my ability to ___. In a previous position, I found that ___ helped to minimize my problems in this area. I would like to discuss implementing a similar workplace accommodation here. I am confident that my experience, skills, and enthusiasm will enable me to perform the position of ___ successfully. I look forward to proving myself as a valuable member of your work team."
 
Remember to include your strengths and stay positive. Disclose your disability on a "need to know" basis and to the person with the authority to assist. Provide details as it applies to your work-related accommodations. Also, consider disclosing your disability to the supervisor responsible for hiring, promoting, and firing employees. This ensures that you will receive the necessary support and that your performance will be judged fairly.   
 
For more information on disclosing your disability, go to www.askjan.org and www.dol.gov.