You found your dream job! You have a great resume and a cover letter so you dive in and start the online application process. As you work through the completion of the application, you come across a disability disclosure page that looks something like this….
Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability
OMB Control Number 1250-0005
Why are you being asked to complete this form?
Because we do business with the government, we must reach out to, hire, and provide equal opportunity to qualified people with disabilities.i To help us measure how well we are doing, we are asking you to tell us if you have a disability or if you ever had a disability. Completing this form is voluntary, but we hope that you will choose to fill it out. If you are applying for a job, any answer you give will be kept private and will not be used against you in any way.
If you already work for us, your answer will not be used against you in any way. Because a person may become disabled at any time, we are required to ask all of our employees to update their information every five years. You may voluntarily self-identify as having a disability on this form without fear of any punishment because you did not identify as having a disability earlier.
How do I know if I have a disability?
You are considered to have a disability if you have a physical or mental impairment or medical condition that substantially limits a major life activity, or if you have a history or record of such an impairment or medical condition. Disabilities include, but are not limited to:
• Cerebral palsy
• Multiple sclerosis (MS)
• Missing limbs or partially missing limbs
• Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
• Major depression
• Obsessive compulsive disorder
• Bipolar disorder
• Impairments requiring the use of a wheelchair
• Muscular dystrophy
• Intellectual disability (previously called mental retardation)
Do you have a disability? How do you answer this question?
This Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability form above is an example of what you may see when you apply or work. All applicants have three choices when filling out this form:
Yes, I have a disability
No, I do not have a disability
I do not wish to answer
I recently spoke to HR professional and executive coach, Monique Daigneault. She had some great advice for me that I would love to share with you. According to Monique, if you have a disability and you want your employer to make reasonable accommodations, you should definitely disclose this by selecting: Yes, I have a disability.
You should select, No, I do not have a disability if you do not have a disability and do not require any type of accomodation. If you select the “no” option and are later diagnosed with a disability, you are within your rights at that time to request an accomodation.
So what about the third option: I do not wish to answer.
Why would anyone select this answer? The answer is simple. You may have a disability but do not wish to make a request for any accommodation because you do not feel you need one. If at some point in the future you do need an accommodation, you can always make that request.
I am not an attorney and cannot advise you otherwise but would like to give you some resources if you want more information in this topic.
These types of concerns and questions are the type of questions that we handle as coaches. I am not a specialist in this topic but have the resources to point you in the right direction. I was able to work with Monique on this and based on her years of experience she gave me great advice! I have included more on Monique and her services here:
Executive Coach, Monique Daigneault specializes in helping executive leaders fast track their career by breaking down roadblocks and eliminating their pain points.