“Disclosure” is the act of making your disability known to others. You might have concerns or questions about disclosing your disability. There are two primary things to remember about disclosing your disability:
Use the information on this page to reflect on whether or not you’d like to disclose, when in the employment process you want to disclose, and what you might say should you choose to disclose.
The choice to disclose is yours; however, self-reflection can be helpful when making your decision. When deciding whether or not to disclose your disability, you should consider the following questions:
If you weren’t able to answer these questions, take some time to think more about them and consider reaching out to someone to discuss them, such as your campus career services or disability office.
Remember: if your disability would not affect your ability to perform the duties of the role you are applying for or are currently working in, disclosure is not always necessary.
There are many possible times where you can disclose your disability to your employer. If you’re not sure when to disclose, read the information below. It outlines some of the advantages and disadvantages of disclosing your disability at different times throughout the job search process, which you can use for help deciding when to disclose, if you choose to do so.
Recommended when: Your disability is seen as an advantage, i.e. when there is an employment equity program in place.
Recommended when: You require an accommodation for your interview.
Recommended when: You are able to confidently focus on your skills and abilities and are comfortable explaining your disability needs.
Recommended when: Your disability is not visible, and you don’t require any accommodations. In this case, you could also choose not to disclose your disability.
Recommended when: You need accommodations to do your job, not disclosing is causing you unnecessary stress, or there are problems or concerns with your work performance or coworkers.
Recommended when: Problems or concerns at work persist. Be prepared to educate your employer and coworkers about your disability. Ask for help and rely on your support system.
Recommended when: Your disability is invisible, and you don’t require any accommodations.
Planning and preparing for your disclosure conversation can give you a sense of empowerment. If you decide to disclose your disability, you might wonder, “How will I say it? And to whom will I say it?” These are great questions! Watch the video and read the information below for some steps that will help you prepare to disclose your disability.
You can also use this checklist to help you plan your disclosure:
Answer the following questions to get started:
If you’re having trouble identifying your strengths, limitations, and accommodation needs, the following resources can help:
Using your answers to the questions above, develop a disclosure script.
Remember to do the following:
You don’t have to name your disability; however, if you feel comfortable talking about it more directly you can include it. You can use the following templates to prepare your own script.
You can use the template document as a starting point for your own script:
“I have/am (highlight your strengths/skills/abilities/qualifications relevant to the job) and can perform the essential functions of this job, but sometimes (mention your limitations) might impact my ability to (describe the duties you may have difficulty performing). I work best when (describe the specific accommodations you need to support the duties you have difficulty performing).”
“Although I don’t anticipate any problems, I did want to mention that I have (preferred term for your disability). I know that my (one or two strengths) will allow me to excel in this position, however sometimes (indicate your limitations) might interfere with my ability to (describe the duties you may have difficulty performing). In the past, I have found that I can overcome this issue with (describe specific accommodations you need).”
“I am an extremely detail-oriented worker and a skilled communicator who can perform the essential functions of this job, but sometimes my limited motor skills impact my ability to type quickly. This may affect how efficient I am when taking notes, writing reports and documenting meeting minutes. I work best when I am able to use speech recognition software, such as Dragon. This worked really well for me and my employer in my last job.”
Once you have created your script, practice your disclosure on your own or with trusted friends or family members.
Once you’re comfortable, approach a trusted source, such as your manager or a human resources professional. They will respect the privacy of your information and be able to direct you to the right sources if you are seeking an accommodation.
If you do require an accommodation, request your accommodation in writing and invite your manager or human resources Manager to discuss it further. Be open and willing to collaborate with your employer on your accommodation needs.
For more tips on disclosing a mental health disability or concern, visit the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Navigating Disclosure What employees need to know resource - opens in a new window.