Questions to Reflect On
There are common questions that may come to mind as you begin interviewing for internship and full-time employment:
What are reasonable accommodations?
The US Department of Justice defines a reasonable adjustment as, “a modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process of perform essential job functions. “ So what does this mean? This means that if you have a visible or non-visible disability that a potential employer is required by law to provide you with the necessary reasonable accommodations.
Should I or Shouldn’t I Disclose my Disability to an Employer?
Deciding when and if you should disclose your disability to an employer is a personal decision. If you will need accommodations before you are hired, such as a sign-language interpreter or access to a wheelchair accessible ramp, it may be beneficial to express your needs to a potential employer during the pre-interview stage. However, if your disability is not visible and it will not effect you during the interview process you may want to wait until you are formally offered a position to disclose your disability to an employer. You also have the option of not disclosing you disability at all during the entire interview process.
Are there any scenarios where you would highly suggest that I disclose my disability?
Yes, if you are applying for a job where the employer is specifically looking to hire employees with visible or non-visible disabilities it would be beneficial to mention your disability in a cover letter, resume, or initial screening interview. However, when you refer to your disability, make sure that you address it with positive regard and include insight on how you have coped with your disability in the past and used it to make a positive difference.
For example, “I have worked as a substitute school teacher with the Alachua County School system for the past two summers. I have a learning disability, so I am always cognizant of the different ways that students learn. I often write things on the board, provide students with written examples and incorporate interactive activities into my learning plan to make sure that I am meeting each of my students learning needs.”