Disclosure in the workplace, which refers to telling managers, supervisors, co-workers and/or others about a learning disability is perhaps the most difficult decision an employee or a candidate will make. There are many reasons why persons with learning disabilities choose not to disclose to employers. For example, they may have had a negative experience and choose not to repeat a similar situation. Or, they may fear that disclosing will lead to prejudice, discrimination or rejection resulting in not being hired or being selected out of a competition.

The following are some examples of the advantages and disadvantages of disclosing during or prior to the interview and competition process.

"I don't want the employer to think I'm dumb."

Advantages of Disclosing Prior to the Interview/Competition
Consider disclosing prior to the interview when the company has an employment equity plan or the company is an equal opportunity employer. In this situation, it's advantageous to self-identify because the employer may be trying to meet employment equity goals.

Disadvantages of Disclosing Prior to the Interview/Competition
Disclosure before the interview may increase the risk of being selected out of competitions. For candidates wanting a particular job, disclosing to a potential employer may create a barrier; consider waiting to disclose until an offer of employment has been made.

"It starts you off with a negative outlook while trying to ... get them in a positive frame of mind."

Advantages of Disclosing During the Interview/Competition
Waiting to disclose until the face-to-face interview empowers candidates to determine the exact moment in the interview or the competition process to self-identify. The candidate should be able to point out their strengths and abilities and whenever possible, give concrete examples on how to compensate for weaknesses. For example, a candidate may have a language processing problem (spelling or writing) and need a computer or spell checker in order to compensate.

Disadvantages of Disclosing During the Interview/Competition
If the interviewer is unaware of a candidate's learning disabilities, the employer will interpret the candidate's mistakes, interpersonal skills and communication skills, negatively. To avoid this, employers and candidates can discuss the types of accommodations needed for the interview.

Receiving appropriate accommodations will significantly enhance a candidate's performance level. Another disadvantage in disclosing during the interview is making the learning disability the focal point of the conversation, rather than getting across a candidate's skills and abilities to do the job.

"Disclosing after being hired allows employers to adjust job tasks to specific learning disabilities."

Advantages of Disclosing After Being Hired
Some people prefer to disclose after being hired. For these individuals, their learning disabilities are not noticeable during the interview and they prefer not to tell the employer. Yet, they recognize that productivity and capability increases when accommodations are available.

Disadvantages of Disclosing After Being Hired
In this case, the employer may believe that a candidate misrepresented themselves in order to get the job. As well, by not disclosing, the employer is not expected to offer accommodations and, once hired, a candidate may have problems in not only keeping the job, but receiving workplace accommodations.

Disclosing a learning disability requires a lot of thought and planning. Persons with learning disabilities should carefully plan how they wish to disclose and know the implications of this action. Employees and/or candidates may first want to reveal a little bit of information at a time in order to establish a level of comfort and trust. Ultimately, the candidate must decide the time, the place and the degree of information to share with others.

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