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Asking About Disability and Respecting Confidentiality in One-Stop Service Delivery

For a variety of legal, ethical, and practical reasons, the One-Stop system should create a culture that shows respect for an individuals right to privacy. Local One-Stop systems should have clear guidelines for staff concerning sharing of any personal information about a customer with other staff and service providers, including information about a persons disability. People with disabilities vary significantly in their comfort level concerning disclosing information about their disability. It is important that One-Stop systems consider disclosure and confidentiality issues in service delivery for people with disabilities, and that One-Stop staff be well versed in proper guidelines for respecting the privacy of all customers.

Different rules for service providers and employers

There are important distinctions about inquiries and disclosure of disability-related information:

The implication of this distinction is that One-Stop staff may have more information about a customer, then they are permitted to provide to employers they contact on behalf of a customer. What this also means is that the One-Stop system must abide by one set of rules as an employer, and another as a service provider. One-Stop staff should clearly understand this distinction. (Further information about disclosure in the job development process is contained in section 7 on job development.)

Inquiries Must Be Done for a Good Reason

One-Stop staff may not make unnecessary inquiries into the existence of a disability. However, USDOL regulations require that One-Stop Career Centers inquire about disability for collection of demographic information (DOLETA TEGL No. 9-02, October 4, 2002). However, such inquiries should be made of every customer (not just those who appear to have a disability), and it is a completely voluntary decision by the customer concerning whether or not to supply any disability information. If an individual declines to indicate his/her disability status, the One-Stop must still provide services to the individual.

In addition to the requirement to collect demographic information, other reasons for inquiring about disability may include:

Requests for information concerning the presence of a disability cannot be used as a basis for excluding individuals from receiving services. It is illegal to deny services based on an individuals disability, unless the disability cannot be reasonably accommodated (for more specific information, see the piece entitled One-Stop System: Legal Guidelines & Requirements for Serving People with Disabilities)

Suggested Guidelines for Disability Inquiries

The One-Stop system and One-Stop Centers are advised to make any inquiries concerning disability with caution, limiting the request for information only to that which is absolutely necessary, and taking the necessary steps to ensure that this information is kept confidential. The following are suggested guidelines for inquiries about disability issues:

Registration and intake

During the course of service delivery

Maintain confidentiality of records

Guidelines for staff

In sharing personal customer information with others, One-Stop staff should consider the following issues:

Written by:

David Hoff

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