Disclosure and Self Advocacy in the Workplace
three accommodations in this room and hallway that have been made for me since my injury 5
years ago. You can look around.
accommodations I have requested in my workplace?
I disclose my injury?
2. Should you disclose your
3. Is there a "right" time to disclose a disability?
did I disclose my injury too?
5. You should always be positive when disclosing a disability?
6. Who should you disclose to?
7. The best way to be your advocate is?
8. Self disclosure can improve your own self image? T-F
9. Restructuring a job is an example of a accommodation? T-F
self advocacy does NOT empower people and allow them access to reasonable
accommodations and strategies. T-F
here to our Disability Services webpage.
Self Disclosure and the Workplace
Why, When, What, and How
*Office of Disability Employment Policy
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.
Disclose in the Workplace?
When you leave school and enter the workforce, many aspects of your life
change. Among the many differences, is the requirement to share
information about your disability if you want your employer to provide
you with reasonable accommodations. In school if you had an
individualized education program (IEP), as required under the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), information about
your disability and the accommodations you needed followed you from
grade to grade. When you enter the workforce, the IDEA no longer
applies to you. Instead, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and
the Rehabilitation Act protect you from disability-related
discrimination and provide for meaningful access. The laws require
that qualified applicants and employees with disabilities be provided
with reasonable accommodations. Yet, in order to benefit from the
ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, you must disclose your disability. An
employer is only required to provide work-related accommodations if you
disclose your disability to the appropriate individuals.
a Disability Only as Needed
The only reason to disclose a disability is if you require an
accommodation for an interview or to perform the essential functions of
a particular job. Your resume and cover letter should focus on the
abilities you bring to the job, not on your disability.
to Disclose Your Disability
There is no one "right" time or place to disclose your
disability. Select a confidential place in which to disclose, and allow
enough time for the person to ask questions. Do not dwell on the
limitations of your disability. You should weigh the pros and cons of
disclosure at each point of the job search, recruitment, and hiring
process and make the decision to discuss your disability when it is
appropriate for you.
the following stages:
-In a letter of application or cover letter;
-Before an interview;
-At the interview;
-In a third-party phone call or reference;
-Before any drug testing for illegal drugs;
-After you have a job offer;
-During your course of employment; or
to Disclose your Disability
Preparation is essential for disclosing your disability. Effective
disclosure requires that you discuss your needs, and that you provide
practical suggestions for reasonable job accommodations, if they are
needed. One way to become comfortable with discussing your
disability is to find someone you trust and practice the disclosure
discussion with that person. The two of you can put together a
disclosure script. It should contain relevant disability information and
weave in your strengths. Always keep it positive!
to Disclose About Your Disability
There is no required information to share about your disability.
In fact, it will be different for everyone. For example, if you
have an apparent disability it is often beneficial to address how you
plan to accomplish tasks required by the job. This can affirm to the
employer that you are suited for the position. Additionally, by
demonstrating your own ease and comfort with the job requirements, you
can relay to employers other traits that are desirable in an applicant.
A person with a hidden disability, on the other hand, will first need to
decide whether to disclose the disability, and subsequently determine
what information to share about the disability. Generally, if you
choose to disclose, it is most helpful to share the following:
-General information about your disability;
-Why you are disclosing your disability;
-How your disability affects your ability to perform key job tasks;
-Types of accommodations that have worked for you in the past; and
-Types of accommodations you anticipate needing in the workplace;
Whom to Disclose Your Disability
Disclose your disability on a "need-to-know" basis. Provide
further details about your disability as it applies to your work-related
accommodations to the individual who has the authority to facilitate
your accommodation request. Consider disclosing to the supervisor
responsible for the hiring, promoting, and/or firing of employees. This
person needs to be informed of your disability-related needs to provide
the necessary supports and judge your job performance fairly.
-You will be able to receive reasonable accommodations to pursue work,
school, or community activities more effectively.
-It allows other professionals (educators, employment service providers,
etc.) to assist the young people with learning new skills.
-It provides legal protection against discrimination (as specified in
the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act).
-It can improve self-image by developing self-advocacy skills.
-It can lead to the experience of exclusion or being treated differently
-It can lead to being viewed as needy, not self-sufficient, or unable to
perform on par with peers.
-It can be difficult and embarrassing.
Protections and Responsibilities
As a person with a disability, you have disclosure protections as well
as significant responsibilities to yourself and to your employers.
are entitled to:
-Have information about your disability treated confidentially and
-Seek information about hiring practices from any organization;
-Choose to disclose your disability at any time during the employment
-Receive reasonable accommodations for an interview;
-Be considered for a position based on your skill and merit; and
-Have respectful questioning about your disability for the purpose of
determining whether you need accommodations and if so, what kind.
have the responsibility to:
-Disclose your need for any work-related reasonable accommodations;
-Bring your skills and merits to the table
-Be truthful, self-determined, and proactive
Self Advocacy in the Workplace
greatest power is love
greatest comfort is kindness
greatest resolution is self knowledge
Self Advocacy—is knowing what you
want, knowing what you do well and what you have difficulty doing.
Self advocacy is knowing your rights and your needs and expressing that
information to the appropriate person.
effective self advocate must be able to determine the optimum time to
make their request(s), recognize an adverse reaction to the request
and/or determine if the person receiving the request understands the
need and suggested solution.
self advocacy empowers people and allows them access to reasonable
accommodations and strategies.
a good self advocate is a process. Ideally advocacy skills begin
development in middle school. As needs and focus change so should self
Be able to identify yourself by your strengths—I do ____ well, I am
comfortable _____, I know _______, It works well for me when ________.
Understand your disability and how it impacts your performance.
require support and assistance from professionals, family members and
other adults with learning disabilities. A good place to start is
contacting someone from the Adult Issues Committee of LDA of America or
your local LDA affiliate office.
Familiarize yourself with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and
Section 504 of the Rehab Act. Know and understand the protections these
laws do or do not provide.
help determining what accommodations (external aids), strategies
(personal changes or modifications) and technology (gadgets) will help
you. The Job Accommodations Network (JAN) is a federally funded resource
that offers individualized information packets, employer information and
answers questions about accommodations. Ph: 1-800-526-7234 or
Identify who you will discuss your needs with in the workplace.
should be a personal choice made after considering the company policies,
the personalities and who actually needs to know. One logical person
might be your direct supervisor but the choice should be made carefully
and with input from your support circle.
Know what you want and how you are going to ask for it before you begin
a first conversation. Practice, practice, practice. One strategy that
has proven helpful, is role playing the discussion about what your
disability is and what strategies, accommodations and technology helps
overcome the problem. It is in your best interest to come with
suggestions and solutions rather than expecting the employer to figure
out what helps. (Washington State Learning Disabilities Project, 1990)
Update and Reevaluate. Be up front
sharing how much the accommodation
and changes worked. Be sure to find out how it has impacted your
employer. (Sometimes what started as an accommodation for one, actually
improves performance for many). Don’t forget to say thank you for your
support, yes it’s the law but a little appreciation goes a long way.
the facilities used by employees structurally accessible to, and usable
by, people with disabilities.
a person with a disability to an equivalent job when one becomes
or modifying equipment or devices so that they can be used by people
appropriate adjustment or modification of exams, training materials or
readers for the blind or interpreters for the deaf.
Difficulty reading materials
(memos, e-mails, etc)
-Assign a reader - use company microphone
-Highlight important/vital info
-Record info onto individual’s voice mail
Difficulty following sequences
-Teach the steps slowly and in order
-Use markers, color coding, charts and patterns
-Allow time for practice
-Develop diagrams or flow charts
Difficulty managing time
-Use computer, desk calendar, personal alarm
-Help set priorities and give adequate warning of changes
Walking??? Help me with this one!
-Ask to be in a less distracting place, away from
passageways, doors, excess noise and movements.
-Ask to take shorter but more frequent breaks…2 - minute stretches
-Hang a “Busy”, No interruptions Sign
-Use your own voice-say it again
-Use sticky notes
-Use rhymes, chants, songs, rhythm
-Pictures—draw it, visualize it,
-Journals, binders, calendars, computer minders
-Self advocacy is much like speaking up for yourself.
-The best way to be your own advocate is to practice.
To advocate for yourself effectively in the process, you need to think
Advocacy Points Possible Questions
what you need- Do I really need this?
what your rights are-What do the rules say about this?
the system and procedures-What are the steps in this process?
your resources-Who can help me, and who makes decisions?
good records-Do I need this in writing?
As a client of DRS (Dept. of Human Services), you should
treated with courtesy and respect
informed about the services, the process and your responsibilities
the decisions your counselor makes
responses to your questions in a timely manner.
an active participant in the process
express what your needs are
realistic goals for what you want to achieve
enough information to make informed choices
information about other resources
necessary, have an advocate, family member, or friend at meetings
you have difficulty contacting your counselor, ask to speak to their
your call is not responded to in a timely manner, or if it is an
emergency, ask to speak to the supervisor
you feel you are not being responded to, writing a letter may be an
effective way to communicate
a folder of all program materials, service plans, and correspondence.
notes when you attend meetings and document all phone calls.
agreed upon service plan or equipment should be put in writing.
Myth Busters For Hiring People
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
Businesses may be eligible for tax deductions and incentives toward
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
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
THEMSELVES AND OTHERS.
Nearly half of employers surveyed agreed that workers with disabilities
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
'two ticks' disability symbol-Click
here to view symbol
employers make very clear their commitment to employing disabled people
by placing the Jobcentre Plus 'two ticks' disability symbol on their job
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
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
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:
the ‘two ticks’ symbol displayed on adverts and application forms?
an employer advertised in a wide range of formats, for example, large
print or audio tape?
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
application forms available in different formats?
arrangements in place that enable candidates to submit forms in the
format best suited to them?
you asked on the application form to say whether any
are required at interview?
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
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.
the situation with a positive attitude.
an effective self-advocate.
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)
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).
*office chair, lazy boy chair, door paddles, keyboard,
rest panel for keyboard, classroom, walker
*webinars, meeting come to me, meet in Cool Beans, now I provide
registration at the job fairs, no longer wear a tie
2. Up to you
6. Need to know basis
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