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When you tell someone something that was previously unknown you are practicing disclosure. When you disclose you are intentionally releasing personal information about yourself for a specific purpose. It is important to keep in mind that your decision to disclose is personal and should be helpful to you. Remember that it is not essential to divulge specific personal information about your disability. What is most important and helpful is to provide information on how your disability affects your capacity to learn and perform effectively. Talk about your disability in the context of environment supports and services you will need in order to participate in and excel at your job. Remember that accommodations in the workplace are only provided when a worker discloses his or her disability and requests job accommodations.
It is a decision to make only after weighing the personal advantages and disadvantages of disclosure. So following is a list of some of the advantages and disadvantages:
Advantages of Disclosure
• Allows you to receive reasonable accommodations so that you can pursue work activities more effectively
• Provides legal protection against discrimination
• Reduces stress, since protecting a “secret” can take a lot of energy
• Gives you a clearer impression of what kinds of expectation people may have of you and your abilities
• Ensures that you are getting what you need in order to be successful
• Provides full freedom to examine and question health insurance and other benefits
• Allows you to involve other professionals in the learning of skills and the development of accommodations
• Increases your comfort level.
Disadvantage of Disclosure
• Can cause you to relive bad past experiences that resulted in the loss of a job or negative responses from your peers
• Can lead to exclusion. Not being included in work/school social events, special training, etc.
• You can become an object of curiosity. Coworkers, other students may stare, talk about you behind your back
• Can lead you to being blamed if something doesn’t go right
• Can lead to your being treated differently than others
• Can bring up conflicting feelings about your self-image
• Can lead to your being viewed as needy, not self –sufficient, or unable to perform on par with peers
• Could cause you to be overlooked for a job, team, group or organization
Disclosing personal and sensitive information can be extremely difficult and embarrassing. Consider the list above and talk to people close to you. Decide whether or not you will need reasonable accommodations in the work or not.
Disclosure scenario #1
Andrew has hydrocephalus, controlled by a shunt and learning disabilities and he was offered a part time job as a bank teller.
Disclosure scenario #2
Josephina has spina bifida, learning disabilities, and uses a wheelchair. She has an interview with a supervisor of a large department store to discuss a position as a sales clerk. She wonders how her learning disability and her ability to move around the store will affect her ability to run the cash register and give correct change