To disclose or not to disclose your disability when applying for a job.
For many disabled people, trying to find a job can be daunting and frustrating. Wondering whether to tick that box to say you have a disability can increase those feelings. Questions may run around your head: ‘Will I be overlooked straightaway?’, ‘Will I even stand a chance if I tick that box?’ I’ve been there, but I’ve ticked that box every single time. Thoughts of whether I would get any acknowledgement, let alone an interview crossed my mind and filled me with anxiety.
Ticking that box means that you’re letting your future employees know that you have a disability; it’s called disclosure.
When I graduated from university in 2017, I was looking for a job like all my sighted peers. I was job hunting almost every single day, trying to find jobs that I liked, jobs that were in my area and ones that were accessible for me as someone with a visual impairment. It can be rather disheartening when you find jobs that you can’t do for one reason or another. When it occurs on a regular basis and you don’t seem to stand a chance, I can completely understand why you don’t tick that box.
I am surrounded by incredibly supportive people who look beyond my disability, they see me for the person I am and for my abilities, not my disability. I ticked that box because my disability is part of my identity, it makes up part of the person I am and has given me some unique skills such as learning Braille and the ability to use a range of assistive technology. I’ve also done a lot of volunteering within the charity sector, particularly with visual impairment charities. I shared these skills and experiences with employers, I wasn’t afraid to open up, I’m a very open and honest person so why should this be any different when applying for a job? In a way I had to tick that box because I needed some help and support throughout the interview such as a sighted guide, and it’s inevitable that I would need reasonable adjustments in the workplace, but I also wanted employers to know that my disability doesn’t have to be viewed in a negative way.
There were many jobs that I didn’t get, but I eventually found an employer that gave me a chance. During the interview I presented the skills my disability enabled me to do, not disabled me from doing. I’ve always seen my disability as something positive; yes I have my down days but it’s enriched my life in so many ways.
Now, 18 months on, I love my job. I have the most understanding and caring colleagues who support me every single day. I will never regret ticking that box and discussing my disability in a positive light and showing how it’s had such a positive impact on my life and the unique skills I’ve gained from it.
Without knowledge of your disability, employers aren’t able to provide support and reasonable adjustments that help you to do your role to the best of your ability. If you feel comfortable doing so, then why not tick that box and disclose your disability?
About Holly Tuke
Holly is blind but attended mainstream education, graduating from university in 2017. She’s an assistive technology officer as well as a disability and lifestyle blogger, visit: lifeofablindgirl.com