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Disclosure of a Non-Apparent or Hidden Disability

Some Pros

  • Reduced stress. Many people report that hiding is more stressful than telling. Disclosing also makes it easier, if the need arises, to discuss accommodations.
  • Immediate knowledge of the work environment. You will have cleared the air and will know what to expect.
  • Release from the worry that a past employer or reference might inadvertently drop the fact that you have a disability.
  • Full freedom to question health insurance and other benefits. If a medical examination is required, you will not have to worry about passing it (a concern with certain disabilities).
  • Freedom to communicate with your employer should you face changes in your condition.
  • Disclosure may make you feel more comfortable. That word is the real key to the issue of disclosure.

Some Cons

  • Bad past experience(s): rejection or loss of a job because of the disability.
  • Fear of being placed in a dead-end job.
  • Fear of being an object of curiosity.
  • The concern that if something doesnt go right, it will be blamed on the disability.
  • Fear of being different.
  • Mostly, just fear of not getting the job.
  • Raises other questions for employers.
  • May trigger stereotyping.

Rules for a Good Disclosure

  1. Script your disclosure. Write it down and have it critiqued. Run through it with friends who are employers and with other people in the working world.
  2. Rehearse your disclosure script until you feel comfortable and good about it, not only with your lips, but with your body language.
  3. When you prepare your script, avoid being too clinical or too detailed. It may be of great interest to you, but the interviewer wants to know only three things:
    - Will you be there?
    - Can you do the job as well as or better than anyone else?
    - Will you be of value to the company?
  4. Remember your script and be positive about your skills and abilities. The more positive you are, the more you will convey that you are you and just happen to have a disability. Conversely, the more you discuss your disability, the more important it will become in the employers mind.

The Bottom Line: You and the employer must both feel comfortable.

(Modified from the Summer 1985 issue of Inside MS, Multiple Sclerosis Society.)

Written by:

Institute for Community Inclusion