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Jobs and Disability

To Disclose or Not to Disclose

From the perspective of a young adult who has low vision.

Lady and man in a job interview

Lady and man in a job interview

Choosing how, the right timing and the words to say when disclosing is almost an art in itself. Society’s approval, whether in a social or professional setting, is what we long for and it can be tricky to attain if you struggle to address your disability. It is entirely up to the individual as to whether they wish to inform others about their disability or; the matter of whether one’s disability is visible or not can also be factored into this decision.

If and when you make the decision to disclose your disability this can often be a sensitive and nerve-racking time for the discloser. Thus, it is a good idea to be prepared and decide on a few key points that you will address when describing your condition. Your key points will differ from the next persons but it can be helpful to quantify your facts so that others, who are not aware of visual conditions, can better comprehend your situation and gain a rough understanding of how much vision you have left.

Hands weighing up options

Close up of mans hands, weighing up options

Keep in mind that when you are disclosing to someone, it will often be the first time they have heard about your particular condition and they will not likely understand any of the medical jargon you are used to using when describing it. Therefore, it is best to try to explain your vision impairment in its’ simplest form and make it relatable to everyone, for example you could reference an everyday activity like using a phone and describe how you use a screen reader in order to access your phone like everyone else. It is important to be friendly, assertive and confident when addressing this issue as the listeners’ response is often dictated by how you disclose.

The more others learn about you and your condition; the more you will feel comfortable around them using your assistive technology and asking for assistance when you need it. There may also be a sense of relief felt as you may feel less of a need to hide your disability.

Laptop, coffee cup and notebook on desk in office

Office desk with laptop, coffee cup and leather notebook

In NSW is not legally required that you disclose your disability when you apply for a job interview. However, this is a very grey area, because if you don’t disclose how can you inform the employer about the accommodations that you will need, to be able to work effectively in that particular work environment. Simultaneously, you don’t want to discourage them from hiring you. Hence it is important to address your vision impairment (only if you wish to) and also strongly focus on your abilities.

Disclosing is a difficult thing to do and it does take time and practise to master, so don’t be discouraged if you do ‘fail’ the first few times.

This week’s latest Insight topic (SBS) was on Jobs and Disability; “Should more people with disabilities be working?” One of the key discussion points was around disclosure. www.sbs.com.au/insight

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