Disclosure is a complex decision and should be made with care. Below is what you might want to think about.
- Explore your feelings about your disability – how comfortable are you talking about your disability?
- Identify, by yourself or with other’s help, what accommodations you may need during the hiring process or on the job.
- Weigh the benefits, risks and timing of disclosure.
- If you decide not to disclose, make sure you can perform the essential functions of the position before accepting it.
- If you decide to disclose, plan in advance how you will handle it
- Who will you tell – the interviewer, HR representative, your supervisor, etc?
- What you will say
- Decide how specific you will be in describing your disability.
- General terms: a medical condition, a disability, etc
- More specific terms: a biochemical imbalance, a learning disability, etc
- Exact diagnosis: anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, etc.
- Remember, try to use language that is informative, yet non-threatening. Be concise in your explanation and prepare brief answers for anticipated questions.
- Describe the skills that you have that make you able to perform the essential functions of the job – what are your qualifications, technical and general work skills.
- Describe any functional limitations caused by your disability that may interfere with your performance and identify those accommodations you may need to overcome those limitations.
- Consider preparing a script
- “I have (name of disability). Currently, I have (the skills required) to do the essential functions of the job. Sometimes, (functional limitations) may interfere with my ability to (duties you have trouble performing). It helps if I have (name the specific accommodations you need). I work best when (other accommodations).”
Timing is important when considering your opportunities for disclosure. Always keep your main objective in mind: You want to be hired to do a job that matches your skills and qualifications. Your timing for disclosure might affect your success in reaching this objective. There are several different opportunities for disclosure during the job search and hiring process. Each opportunity affords different benefits and disadvantages. Consider each benefit and disadvantage carefully. Also, when you disclose, encourage the potential employer to ask questions. Always try to foster an atmosphere of trust and acceptance. By presenting your disability in a positive light and being open to the interviewer’s questions you can help to accomplish this.