What should I say and not say?

Conversation Starter Tips for Self-Disclosure

When disclosing your disability to an employer, there is no requirement to explain your exact diagnosis. You can focus on communicating your functional abilities and limitations as they relate to the specific requirements of a position. As you make a plan to disclose, consider the following do's and don'ts:

DO's:

  • Discuss times when you have overcome challenges and provide specific positive examples. Discussing challenges and focusing on the ways in which you have successfully navigated them demonstrates to the employer that you are mature and determined. Additionally, focusing on the positives can help confront any negative perceptions that an employer may have early on.
  • Clearly communicate your strengths and skills using specific examples. Take time to reflect on the skills and strengths that you have developed from managing a disability. Perhaps there are skills that you have used to succeed with your academics that could be relevant in the workplace? 
  • Take time to prepare and rehearse a disclosure script.  Planning your thoughts can help make the process easier and less stressful when it comes time to discuss your disability with an employer. Make sure to rehearse your script in front of the mirror, with a friend, an advisor, or colleague so that you are comfortable saying it. Review this document for a sample disclosure script and tips on how to create your own.

DON'T:

  • Describe your disability with medical terminology that is complicated. It is more effective to focus on your functional abilities and limitations as they relate to the specific requirements of a position. It is important to use plain language so that the interviewer can clearly understand what and why you are saying it.
  • Accidentally answer prohibited questions regarding your disability. If the interviewer is inexperienced, they may unintentionally ask illegal questions. To learn more about what questions are illegal and how to handle this situation, go to the Prohibited Interviewer Questions page of the Your Rights & Workplace Accommodations section
  • Leave the interviewer uncertain. Use examples to demonstrate and illustrate to the employer that your job performance will not be negatively impacted by your disability.