THE DISCLOSURE PROCESS
1. Preparing for the Meeting
♦ Consider your personal philosophy about disability and disclosure, about what it means to be a person with a disability. How does disability affect your life?
♦ Educate yourself on how to discuss your disability in a professional manner free of emotion and advocacy.
♦ Speak with your physician or therapist and ask questions such as:
- After sharing a list of your job tasks, which ones can you safely perform with or without assistance?
- If assistance is required, what type?
- If you may need to miss work for a while, how much work will you be expected to miss?
♦ Contact JAN, The Job Accommodation Network to learn about potential accommodations based on your disability and the nature of your job.
♦ Be able to articulate which of the essential functions you can safely and successfully perform with and without an accommodation.
♦ Be able to articulate what type of accommodation you may need.
♦ If you believe you may need to miss work for a while, be able to describe how much work you’re expecting to miss and for what length of time. If these absences are due to medical appointments, tests and/or therapies, share options you may have for early am or late evening appointments.
♦ Review the company intranet site, speak with other employees who have disabilities, and read company publications to determine your employers’ support of individuals with disabilities.
♦ Prepare yourself for a variety of questions that you could be asked in response to your disclosure and how you will handle them, especially if they are personal in nature.
♦ See advice from individuals you know and trust who have a disability and have been successful in disclosing their disability to their employer and receiving a work-related accommodation.
♦ Decide what you want to accomplish by disclosing such as reduced work hours or wanting your employer to know how to assist you in an emergency.
♦ Script your disclosure – write it down and have it critiqued by someone you trust. A good practice is to run through your script with friends who are employers and/or who have human resource or employment law experience.
♦ Rehearse your disclosure until you feel comfortable with the delivery both verbally and with your body language.
♦ It’s important that your delivery strikes a balance between addressing your disability positively and letting your disability define you.
♦ Take as much responsibility as you can for your work by preparing alternative solutions that will work for you, your manager, your team and your employer so that the end result will be win-win for everyone.
♦ Be ready to share how you plan to handle your workload should an emergency occur and you have to be away from work for a period of time.
2. Things to Consider
♦ Your knowledge of your disability and your ability to describe it in a manner that that is purely professional and relates solely to your ability to successfully perform the essential functions of the job.
♦ Types of accommodation you have benefited from in the past whether in college or at a job.
♦ Accommodations that have been suggested or recommended by others.
♦ If the individual you have disclosed to inadvertently asks an inappropriate question such as, What exactly is wrong with you? A good response might be, While that’s not important, what is important is all the things I can do that make me highly qualified for his position.
♦ If you have more than one disability, only disclose that which impacts the need for a reasonable accommodation.
♦ Be open to your manager’s ideas because he or she may have or have had employees with similar needs.
♦ Be flexible and willing to try different approaches to find the one that works best for you.
♦ What you want to share about your disability, if anything, with your co-workers. If you have concerns about your privacy, let your manager know so that the two of you can plan what, if anything to say to co-workers about this issue.
♦ You will want to let your manager know if your condition changes in any way that would require changes to the agreed-upon plan.
♦ Since your manager may need to consult with others, including your Human Resource department, about the best way to help you, you should be prepared to ask how much time he or she needs in order to get back to you.
3. What to Include in the Disclosure (The Disclosure)
♦ Schedule the meeting in advance.
♦ Ensure that enough time has been allocated for the meeting so as not to feel rushed.
♦ Hold the meeting in a private to setting.
♦ Stay focused.
♦ Explain that you have a disability or chronic condition but provide only the necessary information related to how it may affect your work.
♦ Clearly state what you believe your needs are or will be in the near future.
♦ Be open to your manager’s ideas.
♦ Be flexible and willing to discuss different approaches.
♦ Remind the manager that you are unique and that your needs may be as well when finding the ultimate solution.
♦ Talk about what if anything to tell co-workers.