Transition to the Workplace

To Tell or Not To Tell - That is the Question?
Whether or Not to Tell Your Employer
About Your LD/ADD

Deciding whether or not to reveal your LD/ADD may be one of the most difficult decisions you will ever have to make. You may worry about the potential pitfalls of revealing your disability (e.g. not getting hired, what they will think of you, not being able to get a promotion). Therefore, revealing your LD/ADD is always a matter of personal choice. It is totally up to you how much information you share, who you share it with and how you reveal it.

One concern you may have is deciding when to tell your employer about your LD/ADD. Should you tell before the interview, during the interview or after you have been hired? To help you make your decision, here are some positives and negatives for each option.

Positives of Revealing Your LD/ADD
Before the Interview

  • It is possible your employer is an equal rights employer who is under an employment equity quota which may help your chances of getting an interview.
  • If you are called for an interview, you will know that your prospective employer has some understanding of your disability.
  • You may feel less nervous about the approaching interview.

Negatives of Revealing your LD/ADD
Before the Interview

Revealing your LD/ADD to a prospective employer on your resume might limit your employment prospects because:

  • You may not be selected for an interview over the competition.
  • Your employer may focus solely on the fact that your have LD/ADD rather than paying attention to the strengths and skills mentioned in your resume. Without being there in person, you will be unable to prove your competency by explaining your abilities and the ways your successfully compensate for your LD/ADD.

Positives Of Revealing Your LD/ADD During the Interview

  • You are being totally honest with your employer.
  • You will be able to judge how understanding your employer is about your LD/ADD and gauge their willingness to accommodate your needs. These observations will help you decide whether to accept a job offer or not.
  • If your employer is an equal rights employer who is under an employment equity quota, it may help your chances of being hired.
  • You may assuage any doubts your employer has about your ability to perform the job by providing concrete examples of how you successfully compensate for your LD/ADD.
  • Not having to hide your LD/ADD may allow you to make a better job of selling yourself to a prospective employer.
  • You may discover just how understanding and accommodating a prospective employer can be.
  • You will be able to request accommodations during the interview itself.

Negatives of Revealing Your LD/ADD During the Interview

  • Your employment prospects may be limited by your employer's poor understanding of LD/ADD. He/she may see your disability as a personal weakness that would negatively affect your job performance.
  • If you suspect the reason you were not hired is because you revealed your LD/ADD during the interview, there is little recourse under the law because the employer can simply say that there were others more qualified for the job.
  • Your LD/ADD could become the focal point of the conversation preventing you from discussing your ability to do the job.

Positives of Revealing Your LD/ADD After You Have Been Hired

  • By law, your employer cannot Fire you because you tell them you have LD/ADD.
  • Your employer is legally obligated to provide you with reasonable accommodations to enable you to do your job.
  • If you are not provided with reasonable accommodations or believe you were unjustly terminated due to your LD/ADD, you can take legal action.
  • You no longer have to deal with the stress of trying to hide your LD/ADD from your employer and other co-workers.
  • You may experience enhanced work relationships through the fostering of trust and understanding.

Negatives of Revealing Your LD/ADD After You Have Been Hired

  • Your employer may feel like you have been dishonest with him/her by not revealing your LD/ADD before you were hired.
  • Your employer and co-workers may show a lack of understanding about your LD/ADD. They may stereotype you as lazy, dumb, slow, etc.
  • Your employer and/or co-workers may doubt your ability to perform the job creating a poor work environment.
  • You may have trouble getting a promotion, even though your work warrants it.
  • Your employer may fail to acknowledge reasonable requests for accommodations.
  • In extreme cases, your employer may terminate your employment, although you have legal recourse.

To Disclose or Not to Disclose

Use the following chart as guidance for when a student with an invisible disability asks you whether or not to disclose that disability to a potential employer. Show the student the pros and cons of when to make the disclosures, but do not make the decision for the student.

Time of Disclosure Reasons for Disclosing Reasons for Not Disclosing
At the time of application
  • If disability is asset to application.
  • Demonstrating honesty.
  • If disability will not affect you on the job.
  • Risk of having application discounted because of disability.
During the interview process
  • Making sure accommodations will be in place before job commences.
  • Demonstrating honesty.
  • If disability will not affect your job.
When you receive a job offer
  • If you think disability will affect your work.
  • If accommodations will be required.
  • Demonstrating honesty.
  • If disability will not affect your job.
When you start work
  • If disability will affect your job.
  • If accommodations will be required.
  • Demonstrating honesty.
  • If you fear prejudice will affect work you're given.
If problems arise at work
  • If you find that you were unprepared for the effect of your disability in certain job functions.
  • If you cannot perform the job for which you were hired without accommodations.
  • If you can learn new compensatory techniques that will not require accommodations.
  • If you can put accommodations into place without intervention.

Issues Related to the Individual

  • What are the individual's job duties?
  • What job duties are problematic?

Questions to Consider When Determining Accommodation Solutions

  • Exactly what does the person have trouble doing within the problematic area? (One must be very specific here.)
  • Examples of pinpointing:
    • Spelling problems? (this may be an indicator of LD) Is it due to reversals?
    • Visual or auditory deficits?
    • Reading problems? Is it due to a visual or auditory discrimination difficulty?
    • Memory deficits? Is this due to lack of attention, the inability to focus, or the
    • Inability to screen out extraneous stimuli, or
    • Short-term/long-term memory deficits?
  • What are the neurological deficits? (One may have to do some educated guessing here.)
  • How can the deficit be compensated? (This is where an
    accommodation(s) will be considered.)