One of the hardest things about having a disability is disclosing it. Some individuals with disabilities can go about each day without having to disclose it in a typical social setting. Aside from worrying about the apparent signs of a disability, some manage most of their symptoms privately. However, getting and maintaining a job is a challenge for most individuals with disabilities.
Should you disclose your disability, and if so, when is the right time to tell an employer about your disability?
Individuals with disabilities are not obligated to reveal their disability. If they choose to disclose, they are not obligated to specify their disability; it is a personal choice. Disclosure is sometimes challenging to manage. For instance, should you disclose your disability during the interview? In part, yes, you should disclose your disability because honesty is the best policy. However, it’s best to notify the employer of your disability after being offered employment.
Conversely, some may say no because of the fear of being turned down; it is conflicting. Once disclosed, the employer following the law will look beyond the disability and focus solely on the individual’s ability to perform the job duties. They may even assist you in obtaining a Reasonable Accommodation and provide extra assistance but, most importantly, understanding. When you don’t disclose your disability, you might have to reveal it if you become ill, miss more workdays than allowed, or cannot perform a specific task. Your job performance is compromised, not because you have a disability but because you failed to inform the company and did not allow the company to work with you through your specific needs.
Which Scenario is Valid?
Both scenarios are valid. On one end, individuals with disabilities want to work without anyone judging them based on their disability and want equal treatment. Most importantly, they fear discrimination; it’s a lot to handle! On the other, the company also has needs. Work must get done, and knowing a co-worker may be absent or can’t perform specific tasks due to a disability may assist the company in creating an alternate plan.
Where to get help?
It’s easier said than done. Some programs make working while having a disability less challenging. Career programs such as “Polishing The Professional (PTP) allow a person with a disability to navigate with peace of mind through the workplace, all while disclosing or not revealing a disability. PTP is a full-service career center and is an authorized Employment Network with the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work program. PTP works with both the employer and the individual to meet both parties’ goals.
The Choice is Yours!
Only individuals with a disability can determine the best choice for them. You may find more benefits by disclosing your disability than not. Perhaps turn that fear of being discriminated against into a tool to prove to employers that you can perform job duties even though you have a disability. The right employer will be willing to work with you.