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McBurney Disability Resource Center


Disclosure is a very personal decision, and it is a decision that takes thought and practice. Every job seeker with a disability is faced with the same question: "Should I or shouldn't I disclose my disability?" This decision may be framed differently depending upon whether you have a visible disability or a non-visible disability. Ultimately, the decision of whether to disclose is entirely up to you.

Why should I disclose my disability?

The decision of whether or not to disclose your disability is a personal choice that should be evaluated throughout the job search process.  If you feel that you will require a reasonable accommodation to fully participate in the job search process, to perform the essential requirements of the job, and/or to receive full access to the work environment, it may be time to consider disclosing your disability.

When should I disclose my disability?

There is no “right” time or place to disclose your disability. You should weigh the pros and cons of disclosure at each point of the job search, recruitment, and hiring process. Some examples of when to disclosure are:

  • In a cover letter or resume
  • Before an interview
  • During an interview
  • After the job offer
  • After the job begins

How should I disclose my disability?

There are many different ways to go about disclosure, and your method of communication may vary based on when you decide to disclose. Disclosure can occur in writing (e.g. in a cover letter), it can occur over the phone (e.g. during a phone call inviting you to an interview), or in person (e.g. during an interview). If you choose to disclose over the phone or in person, you may want to consider putting your request in writing for your and your employer’s records. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) provides a Sample Accommodation Request Letter that you can use in this regard.

What should I disclose about my disability?

There is no required information to share about your disability. In fact, it will be different for everyone, but effective disclosure requires that you discuss needs and that you provide practical suggestions for reasonable job accommodations. Generally, if you choose to disclose it is helpful to share the following:

  • General information on your disability
  • Why you are disclosing your disability
  • How your disability affects your ability to perform key job tasks
  • Types of accommodations that worked for you in the past
  • Types of accommodation you anticipate needing in the workplace

To whom should I disclose my disability?

Consider disclosing on a need to know basis to the supervisor responsible for hiring, promoting, and or firing employees. This person needs to be informed of your disability related needs to provide the necessary supports and judge your performance fairly.

**If you are an employee at UW-Madison looking to request accommodations, you can do so by contacting the Office of Equity and Diversity.

Confidentiality of Disclosure

Remember that you have a right to keep information about your disability private. It is not necessary to inform coworkers and colleagues about your disability or your need for accommodations. While they may be aware of the accommodations, especially if you are allowed to take extra breaks or you have a flexible starting time, they are not entitled to know why. Your employer is required by the ADA to keep your disability and medical information confidential and to give it to managers and supervisors only on a need-to-know basis.

Further Resources

File last updated: April 13, 2017. 09:08:42 am
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