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The Dilemma of Disability Disclosure in the Workplace

To Disclose, or Not to Disclose

IMG_0014Disability disclosure in the workplace is a personal choice to be decided by each individual. At CLE, we give our students the information and understanding to decide for themselves what to do when it comes to disclosure. For some, disclosure means being understood and assisted by their employers and co-workers. For others, disability disclosure might be undesirable; being a part of team without a focus on differences is the kind of work experience that these students are looking for.

We spoke with several of our students in the career program and asked them about their choices in disability disclosure. The answers were as varied as our students and it really does show how much the individual’s perception and personality affect their choice.

Have you disclosed to an employer or prospective employer that you are an individual with a disability?

M.S. A.L. Z.R. E.T. H.
If yes, then describe your experience disclosing to your employer. How did you feel? How did your employer react? I felt casual and confident. I had already been there a year. My boss was surprised, and did not have any knowledge about Autism. I felt my challenges in the workplace would be better understood if my co-workers and employers were aware of my disability. My employer has been very positive and supportive.
If no, describe your decision in not disclosing. I found my jobs through a program where my bosses already knew. It never came up and I never had a problem with it. The jobs I had were straightforward. If my boss asked I would have no problem saying yes.

Disability Disclosure

Disability disclosure can provide many useful benefits, but for some there can be drawbacks as well. At CLE, we support our students in whatever choice they make and always seek to facilitate the most positive experience. For more information on disability disclosure, the link below can provide a great summary on making this important and personal decision.

Newsletter Articles – October 2015

Reese and mentor at Holiday Inn

It may surprise you to hear what I have found to be the biggest challenge for young adults with disabilities as they move through the transition into the working world. You might guess it is something like struggling with learning new tasks at work, or having difficulty engaging with co-workers or supervisors. Maybe even the process of applying and interviewing seems like an insurmountable task. But, no, I would say that while these things might pose some challenges, they are areas that can typically be addressed and overcome through individualized attention and support.

Dealing with adult problems with a learning difference

This story is about the independent person I am today, who is more comfortable in his own skin, and the struggles I went through to become that person. I’m sure we have all tried to become more independent and we’ve gone through struggles, but in all different ways. The funny thing is that no matter how different our journeys are, at the core, the need and desire are essentially the same.

Deciding to disclose disability at the workplace

We set off to discover a few things about the beliefs of our students. We are particularly interested in how they view the word disability. In the course of the conversations we had with five students we discussed issues related to disability in the workplace including the nature of a disability, disclosure and accommodation. There was a range and a similarity of views among our students on what disability is.

Cal at CLE - Standup Comedy

Sometimes the traditional Monday-Friday, 8-5 work week is just not the best option for people. This is particularly the case for CLE students who may be trying to balance school, CLE appointments and transportation issues. This predicament can be further complicated for some students due to physical constraints and mobility issues. Cal Sheridan of CLE Denver is one of those students where a conventional career pathway will not be the best fit. Cal has Cerebral Palsy, so the ease with which others move around and verbally communicate at the workplace is not the same for him. As Cal put it to me quite candidly in our career advising session, “It is not like I am going to have a job working in a grocery store. I don’t even bag my own groceries. If someone were to ask me for help with their groceries I would have to find someone to help me help them!”

Nathanial Major at LinkedIn

Over the last five years I have been speaking up for autism on a peer to peer level with an initiative I call Project Speak Up. Each individual on the spectrum is unique. We have a wide range of abilities and interests. I can’t speak for everyone with autism, but I think by sharing my story I can give people some insight into the realities of autism.

In my EnableIn presentation, I emphasized that innovation is just looking at things in a new way. I pointed out that two of the most innovative minds in history, Albert Einstein and Nicolo Tesla had personality traits and communication deficits that could be considered to be on the spectrum. I then asked the question, what if Einstein or Tesla applied to your company? Would their quirky behavior, social awkwardness and difficulty with communication make it challenging for them to even get past the first interview?

The post The Dilemma of Disability Disclosure in the Workplace appeared first on College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future.

This has been a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.