Discussing Your Disability and Accommodation Needs with an Employer
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the Americans with Disabilities Amendment Acts of 2008 (ADAA) prohibit an employer from discriminating against a qualified applicant or employee with a disability. These laws apply to private employers with 15 or more employees and to state and local government employers. The employment provisions of the ADA and ADAA are enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Like any job applicant, the applicant with a disability must be able to meet the employer's job requirements. The applicant with a disability must be able to perform the essential functions of the job with or without "reasonable accommodation." The most important thing to keep in mind is that the success of any job search depends upon the applicant's ability to convince the employer that he/she possesses the skills, abilities and other attributes required to successfully perform the job. As a person with a disability, you must be well prepared to talk about what you can do and what you can offer to an employer. That doesn't mean that you ignore your need for reasonable accommodations or assume that you won't have to address some issues related to your disability. It does mean, though, that your primary concern should be convincing the employer that you are the right person for the job.
Deciding if and when to disclose a disability is a personal decision. How you approach this depends to some extent on whether your disability is obvious or not. Keep in mind though, "Are my chances of getting this job hindered if I don't request a needed accommodation?" Also, "Will I need an accommodation in order to perform the essential functions of this job?" If you answer "yes" to either of these questions, then you should be prepared to disclose your disability and ask for the accommodation(s) you will need to be successful.
Here are some of the questions a person with a disability may have when it comes to applying for and performing a job.