The Fourth Day of AFB CareerConnect brings us to talking about disclosing your disability. I am quite passionate about this topic and get to speak about it around the United States with youth, adults, and employers. I wanted to take the time to provide four tips specific to the subject to continue our 12 Days of AFB CareerConnect. We have covered job search tips, resumés, volunteering, inspiring stories, and much more. Here are a few tips and advice that could help you in the disclosure process.
4 Tips on Disclosing Your Disability as a Job Seeker Who Is Blind or Has Low Vision
4. Take the time to think about how you would disclose your disability. I always include my disability within my sales pitch or my “Tell me a little bit about you” answer. Yes, I have a sales pitch about who I am and what I do. It changes depending on the audience and situation. What should your sales pitch include? Well, a bit about you, your accomplishments, work experience, skills, strengths, and your disability in practical terms. Yes, I talk about my disability in practical terms, and I don’t say, “I have retinitis pigmentosa, which is the deterioration of the retina from the outside to the inside; deteriorating my field of vision first, as it moves toward the macula or center of the retina, which brings you detailed vision.” I definitely don’t say that, but I would explain my vision in practical terms of what I actually can see, and how I make up for it. I use technology. I would explain the technology in practical terms and might show off my iPhone. I write out the components of my sales pitch in bullets first. Then, I write it out in more detail. As I become more comfortable with it, I write it out in bullets again. Now, it is really second nature. You might have heard me say, “Your tell me a little bit about yourself is not an employment skill, and I use it almost every day.”
3. In my personal opinion, the earlier you disclose your disability with an opportunity to discuss it, the better. The employment process is about building trust; an employer is not going to hire someone they don’t trust. When we disclose information about our disability can determine the comfort level and level of trust. Many of us have experienced situations around our point of disclosure. I can personally tell that I have experienced negative reactions around my disclosure, even in our own field. I was an orientation and mobility instructor, and it was not that common to be blind or visually impaired when this happened. It is more common now, but still not common overall. If you wait to disclose, an interviewer can feel uncomfortable or put on the spot. My big belief is that I do not want to work someplace where they would discriminate against me for my disability. I can tell you that I think about that situation every time that I hear the name of the organization mentioned. Would I ever work there now, I don’t think so.
2. Coach your references. Take the time to meet or have a detailed call with your references. Work with them on discussing your disability and how you overcome. Make sure they highlight how you were a benefit to the organization. Your references can be a great ally in the employment process, especially if they have been coached up.
1. Ask the employer if they have any questions about your disability and how you would do the job. Any questions left on the table will most likely cross you off the list for the position. Employers are not going to hire someone if they have lingering questions about their job performance.
Now that you have read the Fourth Day of AFB CareerConnect, take the time to look back at the past days and track this blog at the top of the page for notifications for the rest of the days to come. You can also get more details on disclosure within AFB CareerConnect’s free online course called the Job Seeker’s Toolkit. Wait, there is more, you can visit the Conducting a Successful Job Search subsection too. Let us know your stories about disclosure in the comment section below.