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Tip Sheets

Disclosure: What to Say About Your Disability - and When


Today, more job seekers with disabilities are entering the workforce. For persons with disabilities, finding and keeping work is usually no different than for those without disabilities. However, there may be additional things to consider, such as disclosure—if, when and how to tell people about your disability.

It's up to you

Disclosure is an important and complex decision that is entirely yours to make. What’s right for one person may not be right for another, and what works in one situation may not be successful in another.

Whether you mention your disability in your cover letter or resumé, during the interview or at the time of the job offer depends on you and the situation. If you’re dealing with a service provider or agency that works specifically with persons with disabilities, you will still have some say in how much is disclosed. Disclosure is entirely your choice.

To disclose or not to disclose

Before deciding if, when and how to disclose your disability, think about the following questions:

Is your disability visible?
How do most people react when they learn about your disability? How do you deal with their reactions?
When do you feel most comfortable and confident disclosing your disability?
Does not disclosing put your safety or the safety of others at risk?
Will the employer think you’re dishonest? How would you deal with that reaction?
What misconceptions might the employer have about your disability?
If you disclose, will you be able to reassure your employer that your disability will not affect your ability to do the work?
Asking for accommodations will almost certainly require you to disclose. Do you need accommodations for the interview? Or if you get the job?
What do you know about this employer's policies and experiences regarding people with disabilities?

(Adapted from University of Alberta, Career and Placement Services Tips)


Options for Disclosure: Advantages and Disadvantages

Use the chart to help you decide if and when to disclose:

Option Advantages Disadvantages Recommendations
Third party referral

recommended by someone the employer knows

employer is aware of your situation

little control over what is said about you

you could be screened out
good option if the person recommending you is supportive

follow up with a call to the employer
Application, resumé or cover letter demonstrates openness

employer may be recruiting for diversity
could be used to screen you out

limited space to describe abilities, accommodations

can’t address employer’s concerns
use if employer has equity program

focus on your skills and abilities
When interview is scheduled employer is interested

allows employer to prepare

provides opportunity to discuss your disability
employer may react negatively

you may not receive serious consideration
if you require accommodations for the interview, disclose at this time

call employer to disclose if someone else booked the interview
After interview is scheduled same as above same as above same as above

gives time to prepare
When you meet employer reduces risk of employer forming preconceived opinions employer might react negatively to surprise use this method if you are confident you can keep the employer focused on your abilities
During the interview you can reassure employer

you can answer questions
same as above if your disability is not visible, use this option and focus on your abilities
After receiving a job offer if your disability won’t adversely affect your ability to do the work, employer can’t withdraw offer possible strong negative reaction from employer in this situation, if your disability is invisible, you may choose not to disclose at all

(Adapted from University of Alberta, Career and Placement Services Tips)


Tips for disclosing

If you’ve had little success in disclosure situations or feel uncomfortable, try role playing the disclosure process with supportive friends or family members.
Be positive. Focus on your skills and qualifications and don't present your disability as a weakness.
Be prepared to address any concerns employers express, even if they’re not expressed directly.
Know what workplace accommodations you may need, including their availability, cost and funding programs the employer can access.
Anticipate the employer's questions about your disclosure and know how you’ll answer them. Use examples.

Telling employers about your disability may be the biggest uncertainty in your work search. How, when and whether or not you disclose is entirely up to you. Once you’ve reached a decision about disclosure, ask yourself one last question: will disclosing my disability at this time and in this way help me reach my goal of getting work?

Other Relevant Tips
Accommodations - Working With Your Disability
Job Interviews for Persons With Disabilities
Talking About Invisible Disabilities
For more, visit the TIPS home page at alis.alberta.ca/tips
Additional Resources
For a one-stop, online career planning resource, visit CAREERinsite

For an overview of information and resources for persons with disabilities, visit ALIS' Persons with Disabilities: Career, Learning and Work pages.
Additional Reading
Your Rights and Responsibilities at Work published by Alberta Employment and Immigration. Work Search Basics published by Alberta Human Services. Positive Works II published by Alberta Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour. For copies of these publications:
download an online copy or order the publication from the ALIS website at alis.alberta.ca/publications
visit the Alberta Career Information Hotline website at alis.alberta.ca/hotline or call 1-800-661-3753 toll-free or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton
visit your local Alberta Works Centre. To find the centre nearest you, go to the Career Services Near You page on ALIS at alis.alberta.ca/awc or call the Alberta Career Information Hotline.

Additional Information
Alberta Human Services provides funding to assist people who are looking for work or are employed and who, because of their disability, may require products or services to help them get or keep a job. To find out more about the Disability Related Employment Supports (DRES), visit www.employment.alberta.ca/dres

If you feel you’re facing discrimination because of your disability, you may wish to contact the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission’s confidential inquiry line.
780-427-7661 north of Red Deer
403-297-6571 Red Deer south
For toll-free access in Alberta, dial 310-0000 and then enter the 10-digit regional office number after the prompt.
For persons who are deaf or hard of hearing with TTY units call Edmonton at 780-427-1597, Calgary at 403-297-5639 and toll-free within Alberta at 1-800-232-7215.
For more information, visit the Commission's website at www.albertahumanrights.ab.ca

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