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Disability Information: Self Disclosure and Self Advocacy in the Workplace

Self Disclosure-Why, When, What, and How

Every job seeker with a disability is faced with the same decision: "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. For more information click here.

Self Advocacy is:

knowing what you want, knowing what you do well and what you have difficulty doing.
knowing your rights and your needs and expressing that information to the appropriate person. For more information click here.

Myth Busters For Hiring People with Disabilities

  • Accommodations are Too Expensive!

    • Average cost is under $500
    • For every dollar spent on accommodation, a company gets back $29.
    • Providing adaptations costs less than training a replacement.
    • Employers are only required to make accommodations that are within their fiscal means.
    • Businesses may be eligible for tax deductions and incentives toward access expenditures.
  • Insurance Costs Will Increase!

    • Insurance rates are based on an organization's accident history, etc., not on whether employees have disabilities.
    • 31% of employers surveyed reported "substantial savings" on insurance costs.
  • People With Disabilities are Not Very Productive!

    According to 4 studies done by DuPont over a 25 year period, employees with disabilities equaled or surpassed other workers in performance, attendance and safety.
  • Hiring A Person With A Disability Will Open Me Up to Litigation!

    • The key phrase is "reasonable accommodation". This indicates that any change in the workplace or in the way things are usually done, to insure ensure equal employment opportunity and does not require undue hardship.
    • Since discrimination on the basis of disability is against the law, chances of finding yourself the target of litigious claims are greater than for companies who do not hire people with disabilities.
  • Workers With Disabilities are A Greater Safety Risk to Themlseves and Others.

    Nearly half of employers surveyed agreed that workers with disabilities have fewer accidents on the job than workers without disabilities.
  • Workers With Disabilities Don't Fit in With Co-Workers.

    • Almost all employers surveyed reject the argument that workers with disabilities don't fit in with most workers without disabilities.
    • Two-thirds of the public surveyed say most of their co-workers would have no problems working alongside individuals with disabilities.
  • Workers With Disabilities Do Not Want to Work.

    • Two/thirds of working-age Americans with disabilities surveyed are not employed; of those, two/thirds want to work.
    • More than three-fourths of department heads/line managers surveyed rate workers with disabilities as equally or more willing to work hard compared to workers without disabilities.
  • Bringing More Workers With Disabilities Into the Workforce Will Take Jobs From People Without Disabilities Who Need Them.

    • People with disabilities need jobs too. Costs to be self-supporting exceed government allowances.
    • Only a small portion of the public surveyed think bringing more people with disabilities into the work force will threaten to take jobs from people without disabilities; conversely, more than three/fourths thinks it will be a boost to the nation by taking people off welfare and putting them to work.

Identifying Disability-Friendly Employers

There are some ways in which you can easily identify those employers who positively encourage disabled people to apply for their jobs. Although employers are bound by the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) to treat you fairly, some have demonstrated that they are particularly positive about employing disabled people.

  • The points below may help you identify those employers.

    • The 'two ticks' disability symbol-Click here to view symbol
    • Some employers make very clear their commitment to employing disabled people by placing the Jobcentre Plus 'two ticks' disability symbol on their job adverts.

    This means the employer has made some commitment to employing disabled people. The symbol also means that you are guaranteed a job interview if you meet the minimum conditions for the job.

  • Equal opportunities policies

    • Many employers have equal opportunities policies. If so, then the employer will have a certain commitment to recruiting and employing without prejudice. You may feel more comfortable disclosing a disability if the company has declared that it will not discriminate against you on that basis.
    • An employer may include a statement in a job advert that positively encourages disabled people to apply and states that the employer is clear about their legal responsibilities under the DDA.
  • Job adverts and application forms

    Look out for the following:

    • is the ‘two ticks’ symbol displayed on adverts and application forms?
    • has an employer advertised in a wide range of formats, for example, large print or audio tape?
    • where did you see the advert? Some employers deliberately place adverts in places where disabled people are more likely to see them, such as with a Disability Employment Adviser at a Jobcentre Plus office
    • are application forms available in different formats?
    • are arrangements in place that enable candidates to submit forms in the format best suited to them?
    • are you asked on the application form to say whether any special provisions are required at interview?
    • is there a section on the application form setting out very briefly their duty as an employer to make adjustments and asking you to comment on any adjustments you think you might need because of disability or a health condition?

Dealing with Discrimination

  • Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities. Hopefully, you will never have to deal with discrimination in an interview. But if you do, here are a few things to remember.
  • Handle the situation with a positive attitude.
  • Be an effective self-advocate.
  • Try to record or write down as much about the situation that you can. (Company name, address and phone number, interviewer's name, date, time, and the discriminating act)
  • Report the information to The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). A charge may be filed in person or by mail. To be automatically connected to the nearest EEOC office, call 1-800- 669-4000 (TTY: 1-800-669-6820).
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