Self-identifying a disability

When Should You Self-Identify?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) definition of a disability is “a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” Talking is a major life activity and can fall under the definition of a disability.

• An individual’s disability status can change, disabilities can be acquired, and over 70% of disabilities are non-apparent.
• 1 in 5 Americans has a disability.

With more businesses now adopting inclusive hiring practices and actively seeking to employ individuals with disabilities, the hiring landscape for people with disabilities has never looked more promising. 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.

Advantages of Self-ID and Self-Disclosure

Revealing information surrounding disabilities can be deeply personal. According to Getting Hired, 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:

  1. Access to accommodations, including equipment and facilities, that can make daily responsibilities easier to carry out
  2. Increased support from coworkers, supervisors or social networks
  3. The ability to explain gaps in
    employment to potential new employers
  4. Flexible or modified schedules in line with a person’s requirements
  5. 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. Only you can decide on self-disclosure.

When is the Right Time to Speak Out?

The right time to speak up about your disability is a personal choice. Under-standing 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, like avoiding the phone interview. This way you and the prospective employer can spend more time devoted to essential skills and a person’s overall suitability for the role rather than talking about your voice.