How to Disclose a Disability During a Job Search

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An issue for people with disabilities who are job searching is when and how they should disclose the disability. What are the best options for mentioning a disability when you're job searching? How can you avoid being discriminated against and be sure you are give careful consideration for the job?

How to Disclose a Disability During a Job Search

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a qualified applicant with a disability.

However, even though discrimination against job seekers is illegal, there are cases where there can be "silent" discrimination and the applicant is rejected regardless.

Employers don't have to give a reason for rejecting a candidate, so discrimination is hard to prove, compounding the issue for people with disabilities who are job searching.

How best to handle employment issues? Dr. Daniel J. Ryan, author of the Job Search Handbook for People with Disabilities, share his tips and advice on disclosing disabilities to a potential employer:

Tips for Disclosing Disabilities

Be Prepared for Questions. If your disability is visible, your interviewer may have questions about your ability to do the job. You should be prepared for these questions, and you can do that by first making contact with the Job Accommodation Network.

Address Your Disability. If your disability is visible, it is best to address it directly early on in the interview.

Because human nature is what it is, a failure to disclose the disability may result in the interviewer going through the motions, trying to be careful not to break any laws, but focusing less on your answers.

Focus on Your Abilities. When addressing your disability, point out that it will not impact your ability to perform the functions of the job, or that it will require only minimal accommodations.

Although there is no guarantee, this approach is your best bet at getting the interviewer's attention focused where you want it - on your ability to do the job.

When Your Disability is Not Visible. If your disability is not visible, it is up to you as to when or if you ever disclose it. In most cases, I have advised clients to wait until after an offer is extended to disclose any disability. After you have agreed upon the terms of employment and have established a starting date, you should mention any accommodations you may need so that the employer can have them in place for you when you start.

Suggested Reading: Employment Discrimination Laws | Job Applicants and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

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