Should You Disclose Your Disability on Job Applications in 2019?


The above picture is of a copy of the Americans with Disability Act on top of a desk.

Disability Disclosure on Job Applications

Searching for a job is exciting but stressful.

The steps to getting a job include a resume, cover letter, the application, and the interview. 

For disabled individuals, disability disclosure might be daunting. Not knowing if an employer shows bias towards disabled people is always a concern.

It can leave many wondering, "should I disclose my disability? If so, when should I tell them — while completing an application or during the interview?"

No need to worry.

If you're looking for a job and want to know when to disclose to a prospective boss, continue reading to learn more.

What Is the Americans with Disabilities Act?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 bans employers, state and federal agencies, and labor unions from discriminating against qualified workers with disabilities during the application, hiring, job training, promotions, and other phases of employment — according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The ADA includes companies and state and federal governments with 15 or more employees.

The ADA protects people with a physical or mental disability that limits one or more life activities, has a documented impairment, or is regarded as having the impairment.

An eligible disabled employee must be able to perform job tasks with or without reasonable accommodation.

Reasonable accommodation includes making arrangements for the disabled person to perform their job. These changes might consist of a ramp for wheelchairs, a reader or translator, altering a work schedule, or purchasing a unique chair or desk.

What Is Disability Discrimination?

Disability discrimination happens when qualified workers covered by the ADA of 1990 gets mistreated due to a disability. 

The ADA protects employees from discrimination and offers reasonable accommodations to help them do their jobs.

What Is Disability Disclosure?

Disability disclosure occurs when an applicant or employee reveals they have a mental impairment or physical disability. 

The person may say they have a disability or put it on a job application about limitations.

According to the ADA, a person is not required to disclose, but without disclosure, reasonable accommodations can't get made.

When Should I Disclose My Disability?

There is no clear answer on when a person should disclose their disability.

When you disclose is up to you and what type of accommodations you'll need.

But timing is essential. If you do receive a job offer, it's crucial to inform your new employer if there are things you need.

Disclosure on the Job Application

You may disclose while filling out a job application in the section on disabilities. 

If a disability is visible and you need wheelchair accessibility for the interview, put it on the app.

It may also benefit you to inform the interviewer so that a room with a wide door or suitable table gets used.

Of course, the downside to admission on the application is if the employer decides to pass on you. While it might be challenging to prove, it could happen.

Disclosure During the Interview

Bringing up your disability in the interview could help your chances of getting hired.

Employers often want someone who does their job well but can overcome obstacles. If you spin your disability in a positive light, it could work out well.

Telling the potential employer allows them to assess if they have reasonable accommodations or would need to invest money to get their facility to meet your needs. 

Depending on the necessary changes, this could influence whether accommodations are possible. A company can decline to make arrangements if it creates a financial hardship to do so.

Disclosure After the Interview

Waiting until the job offer occurs is okay, too.

If your disability isn't visible, this could show you got the job without it being an issue. But even if your disability is noticeable, it shouldn't matter.

Now that you're close to starting the job, letting the company know has advantages.

The company might be more than willing to supply you with whatever is needed for you to perform your job tasks comfortably.

No Disclosure

If you opt not to inform your employer, this could end up backfiring.

Although not all disabilities need many doctor's appointments, physical therapy, or counseling, they might become necessary someday. 

It may also create awkwardness with your boss if they suspected you're struggling, but they couldn't approach you about it.

In the end, it's up to you if you want anyone to know. 

What Should You Consider Before Disclosure?

Before telling a potential employer or Human Resources personnel about your disability, consider the outcome.

Will admission increase or decrease your chances of getting hired? Do you know if the company has a reputation for hiring a diverse staff?

Doing your research before applying for a job could save you future frustrations. Many companies go out of their way to inform people through marketing and social media about their diverse staff workers. 

Check online job boards for reviews about the employer before turning in your app.

If a negative comment about a disabled applicant or worker gets mentioned, this could be a red flag. Although someone might not be the right choice for a job and the reason has nothing to do with being disabled.

The Choice Is Yours

No one can answer the question of when is the right time for disability disclosure.

Weigh your options and make the right decision for you. If your disability is visible, it will become known at some point — so it might be wise to let the company known early on.

To learn more about improving a resume or the best jobs for people with disabilities, keep scrolling our blog.