To Disclose or Not to Disclose?
by Karen McCulloh and Beth Marks
If you need an accommodation you must disclose. This is true for both higher education and employment. So the choice to disclose or not is contingent upon the need for accommodations.
The issue then becomes at what point does a person disclose? Although disclosing a disability is a choice protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the choice of not disclosing a disability where accommodations are needed and cannot be provided, may set up a student or employee to fail. The fear of rejection or stigma directed to a student or employee that has a disability does not have the same impact as denying oneself the accommodations by choosing not to disclose and setting up an environment that is potentially less successful in academic or career advancement.
Also, an important point that might be made is that before choosing a school, ensure that the university, college or technical program has a disability services department. It would also be helpful to research if the school has or has had other students with disabilities enrolled in their nursing or allied healthcare programs. You may also want to speak with the disability services coordinator to see what his or her experiences has been with students enrolled in their nursing or allied healthcare programs and the types of disabilities students have had.
Below are some additional resources for you to consider:
- Visit the Disability Services Office at your prospective or current college campus.
- Read about the The 411 on Disability Disclosure: A Workbook for Youth with Disabilities (PDF) by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth. The decision to disclose is entirely yours. If you are thinking about disclosing your disability in higher education, you are encouraged to let your instructor(s) know about your disability. Before you decide, read about the The 411 on Disability Disclosure: A Workbook for Youth with Disabilities (PDF) by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth.
- Identify some strategies that you can use if you decide to disclose. Youth, Disclosure, and the Workplace: Why, When, What, and How. Every student and job seeker with a disability (especially non-apparent disabilities) is faced with the same decision: “Should I or shouldn’t I disclose my disability?”
- Visit JAN’s (Job Accommodation Network) Consultants’ Corner. Consultants’ Corner is your resource for helpful hints, techie tips, and innovative ideas regarding job accommodations and the Americans with Disabilities Act. This site provides information about Disability Disclosure and Interviewing Techniques for Persons with Disabilities. JAN is a service of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), US Department of Labor (DOL).
- Know your ADA Technical Assistance Center (ADATAC) is a national network of 10 regional ADA Centers that provide the most complete and experienced services for up-to-date information, referrals, resources, and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to businesses, employers, government entities, and individuals with disabilities, as well as media and news reporters. Call the ADATAC at 1-800-949-4232 voice/tty.
McCulloh, K.J & Marks, B. (2012). To disclose or not to disclose? NOND Website FAQ Resources. NOND, Chicago, IL.
Disclaimer: The National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND) does not offer legal advice but NOND does offer resources to help you understand your rights, protections, and responsibilities within various Disability Rights Laws.