Letting your potential employer know about your accommodation needs related to a disability is disclosure. This training is tailored to job seekers with vision impairment, but the general process would be the same for other things that may need to be disclosed.
Prepared by: Kali Giaritta, Renaissance Vocational Services, December, 2017
There will likely come a time in your job search when it makes sense to disclose your vision impairment. This guide is meant to help you decide when and how to disclose. This will be different for every person and the Ren Voc team is here to support you. Feel free to call us to discuss your personal disclosure plan.
WHEN TO DISCLOSE:
Disclosure can happen at any step in the process. Below is a list of times when you might
disclose, and reasons why it would make sense at each step.
In the application: This is a good time to disclose if having a disability would give you an
advantage over other candidates. For example, an employer is seeking a Schedule A
candidate or you can show that your unique experience as a person with a vision impairment makes you the perfect candidate for the position.
Before the interview: This is a good time to disclose if you are concerned about needing an accommodation during the interview. For example, an employer mentions that you’ll need to complete an online assessment or expects you to fill out paperwork.
During the interview: If your vision hasn’t come up by this point, now could be a good time to disclose, especially if your vision impairment is visible to others. Since the employer may already be making their own assumptions about what you can and can’t do, disclosure is your opportunity to dispel those untrue beliefs about your ability, and to discuss your vision in a way that helps the employer feel more excited about you as a candidate, rather than less.
Before you begin your new job: For candidates with some vision, there may be times where disclosure doesn’t need to happen during the application or interview process, but it’s not too late to disclose once you have the job offer, and may be necessary if you need to request accommodation. In this case, you can talk to your direct Manager or your Human Resources representative. Don’t make it seem like a bigger deal than it is. Remember, everyone needs some accommodation.
On the job: Even if your vision doesn’t affect your work, you may choose to disclose to avoid misunderstandings with colleagues on the job. Even if you have already officially disclosed to your manager or HR, you may want to be prepared with a short disclosure statement that you can also share with coworkers.
HOW TO DISCLOSE:
The attitude that you bring to your disclosure, will be the attitude employers will take away. It is important to keep it:
On-topic (i.e. as it relates to this position)
You may use the below formula to help you craft your pitch:
Step 1: One sentence explaining the functional limitation. Avoid medical jargon.
– I have low vision. I can see see shapes and lights, but not much else.
– I have macular degeneration, which means I have trouble seeing fine detail.
– I am completely blind.
Step 2: Explain the accommodations as they relate to the position.
– I use a screen reader to access a computer, and have a number of apps that can help
with everything from reading printouts to identifying money.
– I have a guide dog, which means I can get around independently.
– I use magnification, so I can self-accommodate in almost any situation.
Step 3: Share the benefits of your vision impairment.
– Since I use keypad shortcuts, I can actually navigate a computer a lot faster than most
people. That could be helpful for a fast-paced position like this one.
– My experience with vision loss has helped me to become a more creative, and resilient
person. Since this position requires a lot of problem solving, I think this would be a huge
– Being a person with a disability myself, I am empathetic to the needs of others. I’m an
excellent listener, which has helped me to succeed in customer service roles like this
one in the past.
Other attributes that you may identify with as benefits:
– Comfortable with technology
– Great memorization skills
– Quick learner
– Ability to pick up on social nuances
– Good listening skills
– Excellent focus
– Problem solving skills
– Hard working
– Seeking long-term employment
– Knowledgeable about community issues around disability
– Experience working within government systems
– Good sense of humor
– Strong communicator/Good networking skills
– Excellent planning ability
Step 4: Optional: Offer to answer questions they may have about how you would do the job.
– There may be questions employers have that they are hesitant to ask due to legal
– You do not have to answer anything inappropriate or unrelated to the position.
– You can ask, “Do you have any concerns about my vision that I can help address?”
– Be prepared with solutions! YOU are the expert on your own self.
– Always assume that the employer wants to do the right thing.
– In most cases, your accommodations will be things you already have or tools provided
by the Oregon Commission for the Blind. If this is the case, you can mention that there
will be no cost to the employer.
– Even if you already did a longer work experience, you may be eligible for a short-term
work experience (1-4 weeks). If you sense that your employer is hesitant, you can
mention that you are eligible for a trial period.
– Practice disclosing to a friend and with the Ren Voc team. What parts make you feel uncomfortable? Can you update your disclosure statement to feel stronger?
– Time it. It should be under 1 minute. You want your interview to focus on your skills,
abilities and experience and not get swept away by discussion about accommodations.
– Share what you feel comfortable with. You may share more detailed information about
your vision with some people (i.e. an HR rep who is helping you set up the ideal work
station) but you may not need that same level of detail with everyone.