Every job seeker with a disability is faced with the same decision: “Should I or shouldn’t I disclose information about my disability?” Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to disclose is entirely personal. It is a decision to make only after weighing the personal advantages and disadvantages of disclosure.

If you have a disability, you must consider the supports and services that you may need to be successful in the job of your choice.  Remember that accommodations in the workplace are only provided when a worker discloses his or her disability and requests job accommodations.

Some reasons you might choose to disclose

  • to obtain information to assist you in developing a career plan that addresses possible barriers and accommodations
  • to identify disability-specific employment services and support networks
  • to discuss employment requirements with recruiters or other professionals
  • to discuss disability issues with prospective employers to determine whether the requirements of the position can be met, with or without reasonable accommodations
  • to investigate the supports available at the workplace
  • to develop mentoring and peer support structures with employees and employers with disabilities.

When do I disclose?

There is no one “right” time and place to practice disclosure (it will depend on your individual situation), but being proactive is strongly encouraged.  Consider the following possibilities:

  • In your letter of application or resume;
  • In your cover letter;
  • On the employment application;
  • At the interview;
  • After you’ve been offered a job;
  • During your course of employment;
  • Never.

For more information about accommodations in the workplace, check out the Job Accommodation Network, http://askjan.org/index.html

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Adapted from National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth. (2005). The 411 on Disability Disclosure Workbook. Washington, DC: Institute for Educational Leadership.