Deciding whether or not to self-identify (ID) or self-disclose your disability to an employer can be a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. Individuals with disabilities should not feel pressured to share before they are ready, nor should they fear the outcome of the conversation.
What are the differences between self-ID and self-disclosure?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines an individual with disabilities as, "A person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability.”
Additionally, individuals with disabilities should understand the inherent differences between 'self-ID' and 'self-disclosure.' These terms are defined as:
Self-identification:is the act of checking the box on the disability disclosure form that you see on an application.
Self-disclosure:is the act of personally communicating a disability to another person. It is a voluntary decision and encouraged when a reasonable accommodation is needed.
What are the advantages of self-ID and self-disclosure?
Revealing information surrounding disabilities can be deeply personal. However, anyone considering doing so should be aware of the many advantages that can come with self-ID and self-disclosure. These include but are not limited to:
Access to accommodations, including equipment and facilities, that can make daily responsibilities easier to carry out
Increased support from coworkers, supervisors or social networks
The ability to explain gaps in employment to potential new employers
Flexible or modified schedules in line with a person's requirements
Presents an opportunity to discuss disabilities in a positive light
It is also important for individuals to understand that informing an employer about a disability does not mean everyone will know about it. This is sensitive and confidential information and should always be treated as such.
When is the right time to speak out?
First and foremost, this is a personal choice. Understanding when to inform an employer of a disability can be a difficult task. However, in many cases, doing so at the application or interview stage of joining a new company can be the best solution for both parties.
By disclosing any disabilities early in the process, this ensures a prospective employer will have enough notice to make any reasonable accommodations that may be required during interview. Therefore, more time can be devoted to essential skills and a person's overall suitability for the role.
Finally, it is important for individuals with disabilities to understand the benefits of seeking employment through a company like Getting Hired, which has access to hundreds of inclusive employers. They gain the benefit of knowing that the employers we work with are fully committed to inclusive hiring.
You can find out more about the wide range of services available to all our employer partners by visiting our website.
Contributions to this blog from Kristen Bailey, Account Manager at Getting Hired