Disclosing your Disability: Job Applications and Employment
Defining the term “disability”
The term "disability" can be defined as according to the Equality Act 2010 in England as: “a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on your ability to carry out normal day to day activities”. Of course this is a very broad definition and covers a wide rang of conditions or impairments.
Do you need to disclose?
At the end of the day it really is up to you whether or not you want to disclose your disability. Some disabilities are harder then others to disclose. For example, a mental health disability can sometimes be less harder to disclose as opposed to a physical impairment which is more noticeable. The decision to disclose your disability cannot just be made on a logical basis only. It’s also important to think about how you are going to feel when talking about your disability and how it affects you and your colleagues. There are those people who are confident with this and would rather get everything out in the open as soon as possible while others will procrastintate and worry about them being stereotyped and just want to be seen for their achievements and skills and not their disability.
The decision whether to disclose or not shouldn't be made lightly. To assist you when deciding whether or not to disclose, I would like you to ask yourself the following questions:
Will my disability affect my ability to do the job without any additional workplace modifications from the company?
If you answered no to this, then there is unlikely that its worth disclosing and going through all this heartache, however if you answered yes then I would recommend disclosing but then you need to pick the right time and place to disclose.
Does your resume have gaps in history?
If your resume has gaps in its employment history then it can really worry employers. If you have a lot of gaps in your employment history due to your disability, then it might be a good idea to address those gaps through disclosure. Remember that not all employers are going to be understanding and disability aware. There are still employers out that that have never interviewed anyone with your specific disability so it's best to not assume that they will know what support/adjustments you need. Employers may also be unaware of financial subsidy schemes to pay for workplace adjustments so find out all you can about schemes such as Job Access or assistance from Disability Employment Service providers. If you think an employer may be concerned about the long term cost of employing you, take the initiative and tell them about this scheme. Not only will this alleviate their money worries but it will also show you are well-informed, well-prepared and helpful.