What is Disclosure?

Disclosure is telling someone something that they did not know about you, such as having a disability. There are several things you need to consider:

  • Why should you disclose?
  • Who should you disclose to?
  • When should you disclose?
  • What should you disclose?
  • How should you disclose?

Two multi-ethnic  teen girls sitting on a street bench having a serious discussion.

Learn More about Disclosure

The decision to disclose is personal, and you have the right to disclose or not disclose. Here are some tips on how to disclose. It’s also important to know the laws that protect protects your privacy; and pros and cons of disclosing. With this information you will be able to make an informed decision about disclosure.

Tips for Disclosing

Simple things you can do to feel confident if you decide to disclose information information about your disability. Tips for Disclosing

Laws & Regulations

Learn about the laws and regulations that protect your right to disclose. Laws and Regulations

Disclosure and Work

Suggestions on what kind of information you should consider to tell an employer. Disclosure and Work

Advantages & Disadvantages of Disclosure

Learn the pros and cons of disclosure so you can make an informed decision. Advantages and Disadvantages of Disclosure

Tips for Disclosing

Prepare a script for disclosing and practice it with friends, family members or a counselor.

  • Make sure you focus on your abilities and skills.
  • You don’t have to give every detail about your disability.
  • Be prepared to answer questions.
  • Take information on your disability and accommodations.
  • Review your job description and have a list of what you consider the essential functions of your job.

Laws and Regulations

There are certain laws and regulations that protect your right to disclose. They are:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

    The Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, public entities, public accommodations, transportation, telecommunications, and recreation.

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

    Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination based on disability in federally funded and federally conducted programs or activities in the United States.

  • Maryland’s Human Relations Law

    Every Marylander is guaranteed equal opportunity in receiving employment regardless of race, color, religion, ancestry or national origin, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or genetic information. Maryland 's Human Relations Law

Disclosure and Work

If you make the decision to disclose, there are things to keep in mind about what kind of information you want to tell. It is important and helpful to tell information about:

  • how your disability affects your ability to do your job, and
  • the environment, supports and services you will need to do your job.
  • Be prepared to provide medical documentation related to your disability.

When should you disclose?

  • Before the interview

    If you are going to need an accommodation for the interview, you must tell the employer. For example, if you have a learning disability and you know that there is a test that is given during the interview, you might request that you take the test in a quiet area.

  • During the interview

    Talking to the employer about your disability at the interview will let them know what supports and services you need to do the job. Make sure you talk about your skills and give examples of what you will need to do the job. For example, if your desk needs to be raised to a specific height to have room for your wheelchair, you would want to discuss this with the employer.

  • After you have been offered a job

    If you need an accommodation to do the job you are offered, you will need to tell your employer. For example, if the job requires a medical test and you are taking medications, you might want to disclose this information to your employer.

  • While you are working

    Now that you are working at the job, you might realize that you need an accommodation. In order for the employer to give you the accommodation, you will need to disclose. For example, if you are taking medication that makes you thirsty and you need to drink lots of water, you may have to take frequent bathroom breaks. You would want to talk with your employer about this.

You don’t need to disclose every detail of your disabiity

Remember it may not necessary to disclose every detail of your disability, only the information that relates to your job functions and performance. Once you have decided when to disclose, think about who you want to tell. If the reason you choose to disclose is to discuss accommodations, you will want to disclose to your supervisor and human resource manager.

What to tell you co-workers

Whether or not to tell your co-workers is another decision to make.

  • It is important to talk to these people in a private and comfortable place.
  • Make sure that you have set aside enough time to have a discussion about how your disability impacts your job, what accommodation(s) you are requesting and why.
  • The person you are talking to might have questions, suggestions or concerns about the information you are telling them.
  • A good tip is to practice what you are going to say with a friend, family member, counselor or someone else.
  • Make sure the information that you are going to share is clear and relates to your job.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Disclosure

Advantages of disclosure are:

  • It reduces stress. Many people say that it is more stressful trying to hide their disability than it is to tell.
  • It makes it easier to talk about the accommodations you may need.
  • You don’t have to worry that someone you used to work for, or a reference will tell that you have a disability.
  • You will be able to talk to your employer if you have any changes in your situation.
  • You can feel comfortable asking about health insurance and benefits.

Disadvantages of disclosing are:

  • You could be treated differently.
  • It could cause you to be overlooked for a promotion.
  • Co-workers could ask you questions about your disability.
  • You could be excluded from activities.
  • You could worry about bad experiences that happened in the past happening again, such as losing a job or negative reactions from your co-workers.
  • It can be difficult and sometimes embarrassing.

Talk with people you feel close to when deciding about disclosure

Decide if you will need an accommodation to do the job, think about the advantages and disadvantages of disclosing and practice what you are going to say.

Learn more about your rights and responsibilities.