How to Request Disability Accommodations During a Job Search was originally published on The Muse by Kat Boogaard. Please click here to read the article in full.
In an article from The Muse, Kat Boogaard discusses the Americans with Disabilities Act and how it applies to current job seekers. She also gives advice on how to request ADA accommodations during a job search:
“What Does the ADA Cover in the Workplace?
Title I of the ADA (which is the section of the law that deals specifically with equal employment opportunities) applies to employers with 15 or more employees, and it exists to help people with qualified disabilities benefit from the full range of employment-related opportunities that are available to others.
For starters, it prohibits discrimination in recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, and more. It restricts questions that can be asked about an applicant’s disability during the pre-employment process (meaning, before you’ve actually been offered the job). And it requires that employers make reasonable disability accommodations—unless doing so causes undue hardship.
The “reasonable” and “undue hardship” parts are where things get a little murky. A disabled person has the right to request accommodations, but ultimately it’s up to the employer to decide if the request is actually feasible for them…..
How to Ask for Disability Accommodations During Your Job Search
Knowing what you’re legally entitled to is certainly helpful, but actually speaking up and requesting accommodations is still anxiety-inducing at best. Here are five tips to calm your nerves, ask for what you need, and impress that prospective employer.
1. Consider Your Timing
Timing is one of the trickiest considerations when disclosing your disability during the job search, and ultimately there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It’s a highly personal decision.
For example, Kris Merrill, an Engineering Manager, Developer Productivity at Slack, will let recruiters know before the initial phone screening that he is deaf. “I would request video conferencing and reveal that I read lips for communication,” he says. “At this point in my life, I do not feel nervous about asking for an accommodation that I have a right to have. Every prospective employer has accommodated me.”
Alaina Leary, an editor and social media manager, is similarly open about her disability, but she waits a little longer to disclose it. “I usually only bring it up when we’re scheduling an interview or a little bit later in the interview process when I feel I’m a potential top candidate. There’s not usually a reason to include it on the initial application,” says Leary, who has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which causes her to struggle with widespread chronic pain, fatigue and exhaustion, brain fog, and difficulty with mobility, walking, and standing. She often walks with a cane.
“Any employer could easily find out I’m disabled simply by visiting my portfolio or Googling my name, so I’m not actively trying to hide anything in the job search process,” she adds.
Leary adds that she hasn’t always been this open about her disability—particularly in a professional setting. “I rarely talked about it in office jobs that I held before I started working remotely,” she says. “Office culture makes it very uncomfortable to talk about disability unless you know where everyone stands.”
Again, this is obviously a personal decision, and the fear that bringing up a disability could sabotage their chances inspires many job seekers to bite their tongue until later on. However, there is something to be said for disclosing earlier in the hiring process.
“Don’t forget that you’re evaluating the company just as much as they’re evaluating you, so you want to find companies that welcome whatever you bring to the table,” says Julie Li, Senior Director of Employee Experience and Diversity and Inclusion at Namely. “I recommend being up front rather than waiting until the last minute. If an employer makes you feel uncomfortable, you probably don’t want to spend 40+ hours a week in that environment.”
DeFreitas adds, “You don’t ever want to be in a position to have not disclosed and not requested accommodation and now you’re not getting the best opportunity to bring your whole self to the workplace.”
2. Ask Questions About the Hiring Process…”
Visit The Muse for more great tips and advice on disability in the job search.