In the YLI study, hesitation in disclosing disability was one of the main themes found throughout our conversations with the young adults with disabilities who participated in the focus groups. The impact of disability disclosure seems highly dependent upon the type of disability involved and the receptiveness of employers to addressing accommodations. Participating youth who have disabilities that are not immediately visible tend not to disclose their disabilities unless it is necessary because of the nature of a job or because their employer needs a better understanding of their situation.
For those with a physical or sensory disability that is apparent, disclosure is often necessary earlier in the hiring process. For example, some applicants need accommodations during the interview process. The COVID-19 pandemic and the prominence of remote work also increased hesitation in disability disclosure, even for people with visible disabilities. Most participating youth indicate that often there is a shift in employers’ perception of them as a candidate after the moment of disclosure, and some of them feel that there is discriminatory behaviour towards them when they find out about the candidate’s disability. Participants claimed changes in the voice and attitudes of employers. Many focus group participants described their belief that their disability reveal is a big factor in rejection.
Deciding when, how, and if to disclose a disability to a current or prospective employer is a complex personal decision. You are not required to disclose your disability if you can perform the core duties described in the job description. The YLI Advisory Committee recommended that young jobseekers with disabilities thoroughly research the job to determine if the core duties are a fit before submitting a job application.
Researching the company to assess its accessibility and inclusivity is an essential step before disclosing a disability. After being hired, it is beneficial to keep track of your duties compared to what is included in the job description. Spending time on finding the right fit is important; knowing what to do to meet performance expectations, particularly when a disability is recently acquired, is critical to setting yourself up for success. Volunteering or trying out a job through a referral from a career agency is a good opportunity to articulate your abilities and what your desired position looks like and will help build self-confidence and acquire the hands-on skills needed for the job.
We believe that more education for employers is required. Everyone has unique needs and lived experiences, so education of employers is necessary to individualize conversations about disability and create an experience and solution that is produced specifically for the individual.
The disability disclosure decision is intimidating for both employers and young employees with disabilities. The YLI team is adding a few tools and resources in the toolkit serving as referencing tools for those who want an inviting and respectful conversation around disclosure.
The YLI Toolkit is a constant work in progress; we’ll always be adding and updating resources as new information is found. Please enjoy what we have so far and stay tuned for more updates coming soon! If you know of resources that you think would benefit others, share them with us by completing the YLI questionnaire.
Are you wondering when, what, and how to disclose your disability to your prospective or current employer?
Are you puzzling about the proper way to carry out a conversation when your employees disclose their disability?
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This toolkit is a collective effort between the YLI team and you.
We invite you to explore the YLI Toolkit, use it, and let us know your thought by submitting your suggestions or feedback. We appreciate your continued support!
Resources on the YLI Toolkit webpages, including, but not limited to, the text, graphics, images, links, and other materials are intended for informational and educational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. The Disability Foundation and Affiliates do not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the linked websites. Reliance on any information provided herein is solely at your own risk. The information provided on YLI Toolkit webpages are designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your care team. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking medical attention because of something you read or see on YLI Toolkit webpages.
The YLI Toolkit does not offer specific medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call emergency personnel (911) to receive medical attention.