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Disclosure of a Non-Apparent or Hidden Disability
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Rehearse your disclosure script until you feel comfortable and good about it, not only with your lips, but with your body language.
- 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?
- 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.)
Institute for Community Inclusion