Disability Disclosure Part 2

 

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This is the third in my employment-themed series of articles for National Disability Employment Awareness Month. In November 2019, I wrote a blog post entitled

“Disability Disclosure and Reasonable Accommodations”.

That article shared some useful tips, and I want to expand on the subject here. In this article, I will provide additional information about whether to disclose a disability to an employer, disclosure tips and examples from individuals.

As explained in my article linked to above, when and whether to disclose disability to an employer is an individual’s choice. This

article from the National Career Development Association (NCDA) about

disclosing hidden disabilities

may help some readers. The article points out that an employee or job applicant may choose not to disclose a disability out of fear. Or, they could decide that disclosure would not be worthwhile because hidden disabilities can sometimes be viewed negatively. On the positive side, disclosure can enable managers to be supportive and alleviate stress for the employee or applicant. Disclosure can also enable employees to request reasonable accommodations when necessary. I will now discuss disclosure tips.

The article from NCDA referenced above provides disclosure tips which may help people with hidden or physical disability. Role-playing with someone else in advance, if possible, can be a preparation tool. It may also help to focus on abilities rather than limitations and think about what accommodations have been beneficial in the past, if any. Based on my experience as an employed individual with disability, Company culture is also an important factor to consider. Workplace environment can affect how open employees are with an employer about themselves and their needs. I found two YouTube videos which illustrate points which I made above.

I chose videos which shine spotlights on individuals with disabilities. In the first

video: “The Job Search and Disclosing your Disability”,

two people with obvious disabilities stated they choose to disclose as early as possible. For example, a person who is blind requests accommodations in advance when necessary to complete job interviews. In contrast, An individual with an invisible disability shared that he only disclosed need for the accommodation of a quiet room after hire when circumstances warranted. Near end of the video, the point was made that a employer’s company culture can be an important factor in a disclosure decision. The second video focuses on an employee with an invisible disability.

video: “Disclosing A Disability To An Employer”.

The person with a disability states that the disclosure decision was difficult, but doing so helped establish clear communication with her employer. She disclosed during the job interview, and her employer gained some understanding about her disability. After hire, the individual with a disability chose to disclose her disability to the entire staff resulting in co-workers asking her questions to learn. In the video, her boss said the company did not experience any disability-related challenges. In fact, the employee blossomed and the employer expressed complete satisfaction with her work. The individual ended her video by emphasizing disability disclosure can, to quote her, break down “that wall of miscommunication.” Ultimately, each person needs to determine for him/herself if disability disclosure is necessary and what strategies to do so work best for them.

Question for readers: If you have disclosed a disability to an employer or know someone who has, what strategies were useful? I will return next week with another article.

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