Many individuals with disabilities believe they have to share everything about their disability or disabilities with a potential employer in the job search process. The Americans with Disability Act (ADA) of 1990 protects people with disabilities from being discriminated against in employment situations. This protection from ADA legislation allows individuals with the choice of sharing or not sharing information about a disability. The short answer: you don’t have to share or discuss your disability at any point in the discussion.
The process of determining if and when a person should disclose a disability should be on a need to know basis. This information is not necessary for a job application, a resume, or a phone interview. Some people with disabilities may be concerned that not disclosing is being dishonest; but the primary rule of a job search is the same for every person – “Can you perform the essential functions of the job?” People with disabilities are likely to review job opportunities that take into consideration their disability and not likely to apply for jobs they could not complete. The employer should be focused on your skills and abilities.
Face-to-face interviews are the first time you might consider sharing about a disability. The main reason would be to arrange an accommodation for the interview. For example, a person in a wheelchair might find themselves in an uncomfortable situation if the interview is on the 2nd floor without an elevator. Providing information about the disability to the employer can resolve these potential issues.
Another time for potential disclosure is after a job offer is extended. The person who believes their disability might need some kind of an accommodation could disclose at this time. The employer is interested in their job skills and abilities, and the job offer is an indication of the person’s ability to do the job.
A workshop at IowaWORKS: “To Share or Not to Share” is designed for people with disabilities who are seeking employment. Disclosure of a disability to a potential employer is an important decision to make. This interactive discussion will involve if and when a person might disclose their disability and how workplace accommodations are tools to make employees with disabilities successful. Sign up for the To Share or Not to Share workshop to find out more about navigating the job search process.