Disclosing Your Disability When Jobseeking


If you have a disability, then it’s often a difficult question regarding when and where you should disclose this information. Obviously in some cases such as regarding safety there’s little doubt but in other situations it’s not that straightforward. In this video there’s a series of brief opinions from a variety of disabled people concerning this issue.


Transcript below.

>Taffey: I’m Dr. Taffey Connie and I am the Assistant Dean/ Director of the Office of Disability Services at the Georgia Institute of Technology. I’m contacting one or two times a week by industry professionals that are interested in hiring students with disabilities, interested in offering internships to students with disabilities. There’s so much opportunity out there for our students with disabilities to gain experience within the computing field.

Tami: I’m Tami Tidwell and I work here at DO-IT as a program coordinator. Job fairs are overwhelming opportunities for anyone. So it’s great when students take the opportunity to prepare ahead of time. The job search for students with disabilities is very similar to a standard job search. The only difference is that a student with disabilities needs to consider whether or not they need a disclosure strategy. So if, when, how and to whom they would like to disclose.


>Tami: So if you have a visible disability, so if someone is going to meet you and see that you have a disability, many students decide to disclose before they meet that person face to face.


>>Cindy: I’m Cindy and I’m a third year PhD student in the Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington.

I’m totally blind. If I get connected with an opportunity based on a personal networking connection, I don’t hide anything because likely they already know because they’ve met me or their colleague met me. So I don’t make it a point to say, Oh by the way, I am blind, but I’m might make it a point to say, If you’re going to need me to use a computer during the interview I will need a computer with a screen reader and if you’re going to need me to maybe write on a whiteboard I would prefer to instead type on a computer so that’s accessible for me.

>> K: Hi I’m K.

Because my disability is a very obvious physical disability, I usually try to disclose as early as possible so I’m not shocking whoever I’m going to be interviewing with or meeting with in person, so I try to get it on the table pretty early. If I hadn’t already disclosed up to the point when I get called for an interview, I definitely want to let them know that I need an interview location that is wheelchair accessible.

Richard: I’m Richard Ladner, professor in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. If you’re deaf and you use sign language interpreters or captioning, you might have to disclose fairly early because, you know, you show up and there’s no interpreter, you can’t even have your interview. Or if you make a phone call and have a phone interview you might do it through a video relay service and you’re a male that’s applying and the video relay operator is female, then people can be confused. So, and also there’s some little delays because the interpretation has delays so having that phone interview if you’re deaf is going to be very different. So disclosing probably is a good idea

>> Narrator: Someone with an invisible disability may decide not to disclose until after they received a job offer.

>>Matt: My name is Matt May.

I’m the senior program manager for accessibility at Adobe. In my case it was my first, it was immediately after I accepted the offer, I said, I’m going to be working at the time on standards for accessibility. I’m going to be reading a lot of material, I need the ability to sit in a quiet room. I can’t sit in cubicles with lots of noise happening. I won’t be able to actually focus on this material.” So I had a specific need that was related to how I related to the business and I had a simple accommodation.

Give me a place that I can work in quiet.

> Tami: If it won’t impact their job performance at all because they’ve chosen a job that suits their disability very well, then they may decide not to disclose even when they’re hired.

>> Narrator: Another consideration is the company and its culture.

> Taffey: Microsoft has a specific program that they are launching looking for people with autism, on the autistic spectrum. And so obviously they are looking for this particular population. That would be an absolute appropriate time to disclose. Doing some research on the culture of the company, doing some research on what are the attitudes around disability in that company? Is this going to be a place where they will want to work as a person with a disability? And understanding when it is time to disclose, how to frame it, right? Like what are you going to bring to the company as what unique perspectives? What are the gains from the company? What are the gains, the company will have by having you on their team? .


Additional Resources: 

An article discussing the ability to completely cloak your IP address online is here. This facility allows people to access resources which can often be restricted based on location, by hiding your IP address.

ITV Hub – the independent commercial TV channel ITV has a good track record of covering disability issues.  You can watch the ITV shows normally live and by using their catch up feature which is called ITV Hub.  To access the ITV abroad you’ll need an application like this.