Disclosing Disabilities

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blind and low vision  •  neurodivergent  •  Blind and Low Vision  •  Employer  •  Insights  •  Job seeker  •  Neurodivergent

Topics covered

  • 1 – Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • 2 – Disability Disclosure, Accommodation & Works
  • 3 – Requesting Job Accommodation
  • 4 – The Accommodation Process
  • 5 – Introduction to Job Accommodation Network
  • 6 – Five Things You Should Know About Workplace Accommodations

Video Recording of the Event

The Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the Federal rights law to protect people with disabilities against discrimination in any aspect. It requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities when it is known that accommodation is needed. Understanding the ADA accommodation process and ways to request and negotiate accommodations can make the process easier to navigate. This training will introduce attendees to the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) service, include an overview of the accommodation process, and provide practical tips for requesting job accommodations under the ADA.

Federal civil rights prohibit discrimination and requires a reasonable accommodation in employment for individuals with disabilities (limited by undue hardship and disability qualification). It is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Title 1

Title 1 requires reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities from covered employers. This could include but is not limited to restructuring jobs, making worksites and workstations accessible, modifying schedules, providing services such as interpreters, and modifying equipment and policies.
Employers are not required to provide accommodation if it will impose an undue hardship “Excessively costly, extensive, substantial, or disruptive, or that would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business.”

Who must comply with Title 1 and are covered?

Private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor unions, and joint labor-management committees with 15 or more employees must comply with Title I of the ADA.

Who is protected by Title 1?

Anyone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of his/her major life activities. But also, employee must satisfy the employers’ requirement for the job, must be able to perform essential functions of the job with or without accommodations.

Disability Disclosure, Accommodation & Works
It can be difficult for individuals to disclose disabilities because they have to be asked personal questions.

Then why disclose?
○ For accommodation
○ To receive benefits or privileges of employment
○ To explain an unusual circumstance

What to disclose?
○ Nature of Disabilities
○ How it affects performances

Tips for disability disclosure
Don’t delay. Disclose When accommodation is needed, and before any issues arise. Explain why you are disclosing such as for an accommodation. Disclose to the right person e.g. a manager or HR, and do not feel like you need to disclose to everyone.

Requesting Job Accommodation
You can simply ask for accommodation at any time in writing or verbally. An accommodation request is one for adjustment or change for reasons related to a medical condition. It can be made by employees, family members, healthcare persons, or representatives.

A Candidate’s Step by Step Tips for Requesting Accommodation
○ Decide how you’ll ask – face to face, email, formal letter
○ Decide who to ask
○ Explain why you need one, and what it affects in the job
○ Understand what an employer requires in response to an accommodation request
○ Follow up on your request
○ Provide medical information if the employer asks
○ Monitor the accommodation to make sure it’s effective
○ Ask the employer to offer ideas or work together to provide accommodation.

An Employer’s Step by Step Tips for Offering Accommodation
○ Recognizing an accommodation request from the employee
○ You can request medical validating info if a disability is not apparent
○ The employee/applicant is responsible for legwork and cost to get that info
○ Gather information
○ Exploring accommodation options
○ Choosing the accommodation
○ Implementing the accommodation
○ Monitor to make sure accommodation is effective


Tips for when Accommodation is denied
○ Ask why it was denied
○ Provide more medical information if initial information was insufficient
○ Offer alternative accommodation solutions if the request felt unreasonable
○ You can appeal/complaint
○ Contact state Protection & Advocacy (P&A) organization if you feel conditions are unworkable
○ As the last resort, file a complaint to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or the State level.

The Job Accommodation Network

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN Services) was Founded 1983 from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy/ODEP. It’s a free, expert led, and confidential guide on job accommodations for disability employment issues. It helps cultivate disability-inclusive workplaces. JAN’s website (www.askjan.org) offers the ADA library, by role, publications, related topics, and EEOC guidance documents.

Top Five Things You Should Know About Workplace Accommodations

Did you know that if you have a disability and need an adjustment from an employer so you can work, you might have a legal right to ask for that adjustment? Employers with 15 or more employees must provide certain workplace adjustments, called “reasonable accommodations,” for employees who have a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). But even if you know you have a right to request an accommodation under the ADA, you may be wondering how to best exercise that right.

Here are the top five things you should know about requesting and negotiating workplace accommodations based on the questions individuals with disabilities ask the Job Accommodation Network (JAN):

You can initiate it!

Under the ADA, you can ask for an accommodation if you need one. This makes sense, as we do not want employers making assumptions about whether you need an accommodation. You can determine whether you need an accommodation, when to ask, whom to ask, and how to ask. If you need information, see:

You are the expert!

Under the ADA, employers may choose among reasonable accommodations as long as the chosen accommodation is effective. But you know yourself and your disability better than anyone so when it comes to accommodations that might help you do your job, you are the expert! If you know what you need, ask for it, explain why you need it, and most importantly, tell the employer how it will help you do your job. But keep in mind, if your employer wants to explore other ideas, you should work with the employer to see if you can propose anything else.

You can be creative!

Under the ADA, there are adjustments or workplace modifications that are considered reasonable accommodations and some that are not. It is good to be aware of these considerations, but you are not always limited by them. If you and your employer agree on an accommodation, even if it goes beyond what is required by the ADA, that is okay. You can be creative, think outside the box, and suggest anything you think might be effective and see if your employer supports it. If you need accommodation ideas to explore, see:

You can negotiate!

Under the ADA, it is the employer who chooses what accommodation you will receive, as long as it’s effective. However, that does not mean you cannot try to advocate for your preferred accommodation to the employer. If you believe that your choice is the best option for both you and the employer, let the employer know why. And remember to explain how the accommodation will help you do your job. If your employer initially denies your requested accommodation or offers an accommodation that you do not think will work, see the following ideas for negotiating with the employer:

You can evolve!

Under the ADA, an employer’s duty to provide accommodations is ongoing, meaning that if something changes and your accommodation is no longer effective, you can ask for different or additional accommodations. And if your medical condition changes and you no longer need an accommodation, you can ask your employer to remove the accommodation you have.

Asking for and negotiating workplace accommodations does not have to be difficult. There are tools available and help if you need it. For more information, visit JAN’s Individual page or contact JAN!

Vicki Salemi

Vicki Salemi is a career expert for Monster, author, columnist, HR people officer, talent consultant, corporate ghostwriter and career coach
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