Disclosing Your Learning Disability

Download/Print Adults with Learning Disabilities – Disclosing Your Learning Disability Info Sheet

What is disclosure?

In a disability context, “disclosure” is the act of revealing personal information about a disability for the specific purpose of receiving accommodations in postsecondary school, job training, or the workplace. An accommodation is an adjustment to an environment which makes it possible for people with disabilities to participate equally.

There is no standardized form or set of requirements regarding what people must share about their disabilities, and the choice to disclose is a personal decision that individuals with disabilities must make for themselves. They should decide to whom they choose to disclose and how much information to provide.

When should you disclose?

Disclosing a disability may be a consideration when transitioning to postsecondary education, starting a new job, or keeping a job. Generally, adults with learning disabilities find it best to disclose information only if accommodations will be required in that setting.

In postsecondary schools, students with disabilities should disclose their disabilities during the enrollment period.

In the workplace, employees can request an accommodation any time during the application process or after being hired. Usually, employees with learning
disabilities should disclose the disability at work when there is a job-related barrier that is preventing them from doing a job or competing for a better job unless they receive job accommodations.

Who do you disclose to?

To receive accommodations at work or in postsecondary school, information about the disability must be shared with the appropriate authorities.

In postsecondary education settings, there are disability service offices that oversee accommodation requests for students with disabilities. The school’s administration office can direct you to the office for disability services.

In the workplace, many employers have specific procedures to handle accommodation requests. Check the employee handbook or the company’s
intranet for this information. If there is an EEO office or a human resources department, they can handle the request.

The other option at work is to talk to a manager or supervisor directly. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), you only have to let your employer know that you need an adjustment or change at work for a reason related to a medical condition. You do not have to mention the ADA or use the phrase “reasonable accommodation.” Just give basic information about your challenges and what accommodations would help you to be more effective in your job.

Also, it is not necessary to tell co-workers about your disability or your need for accommodations. Your employer is required by law to keep your disability information confidential and to give it to managers and supervisors only on a need-to-know basis.

What should you know before you disclose your disability?

    • Your areas of strengths and challenges.
    • The accommodations and strategies that will work best for you in your school or job.
    • How to effectively communicate information about your learning disability, including your strengths and needed accommodations.
    • It is most important to provide information about:
      • how your disability impacts your ability to learn and work effectively; and
      • what accommodations, supports, and services you will need in order to access, participate, and excel in your school or job, and
        how they have helped you in past, similar situations.

How do you disclose most effectively?

Arrange a meeting with the person in charge of handling accommodation requests. Verify that the conversation is confidential. Tell the person that you have a documented condition that may require some job or school adjustments that will allow you to complete your tasks
successfully. First discuss the strengths you have that pertain to your learning or job, then suggest accommodations that allow you to use your strengths to compensate for your areas of difficulties.

For example, “I do a great job following written directions. However, when someone gives me verbal instructions, I need a written copy to ensure that I don’t miss any steps along the way.”

Additional Resources

Rights and Responsibilities of College Students with Learning Disabilities (LD)

Self-Advocacy in the Workplace: Requesting Job Accommodations

Job Accommodation Network

Download/Print Adults with Learning Disabilities – Disclosing Your Learning Disability Info Sheet

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Feel free to leave a comment below regarding this article. If you have a specific question for LDA, please contact us directly.

Comments

  1. I found out I had a learning disability in elementary. So school was a struggle for me. I went to school for medical assistant this was a struggle but I made it through and graduated. I’ve been working for a company for three years in the medical field. I decided to quit the job that I was comfortable with due to pay. I decided to work at a doctor’s office. Everyone seemed pretty nice,my first week there. Even the trainer seem pretty nice as well. She wanted me to start being Hands-On which was cool because I learn better hands on. So the trainer notice I struggle with spelling . the trainer seem like she was okay with it. I get really nervous when people are hovering over me when I’m typing so it makes me mess up even more. I was finally by myself , no shadowing just working if I couldn’t spelled something I will Google it and check my grammar as well. I felt like I was doing a good job I was answering so many calls helping a lot of the Patients Out. My trainer hold the supervisor about my spelling. ever since my trainer told my supervisor about my spelling. She would constantly send me emails telling me spelling errors. Or have someone sit by me and fix some of the errors that she felt like I did wrong. My supervisor wood have one of the co-workers set by me to help me fix some of my errors , my co-worker would say I don’t know why she’s making you do this again this is right a lot of the stuff was right and I did mess up a few times. I don’t know if I was discriminated against. I don’t know if I was let go because I have a learning disability.

    • LDA of America says

      We are sorry to hear you had difficulty at your job. It sounds like you were let go from your job, and you are not sure if you were discriminated against. We would recommend that you contact the ADA Network and find the ADA Center nearest to you. Click on the state you live in, and you will be directed to the correct ADA Center in your home area: https://adata.org/find-your-region. Then, you can call the center, and speak to a staff member (often times an attorney), and explain your situation. I am not sure the ADA Center will be able to help you, but it’s a place to start. The ADA Centers provide information on the Americans with Disabilities Amendments (ADA) Act. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
      We also have another suggestion: You may benefit from enrolling in an adult education class where you live. Google, Adult Education and Literacy classes, and see what is listed. These classes are usually free, and they will help you strengthen your spelling and writing skills. Although your learning disability does not go away, improving your skills and learning strategies to use at work will help you flourish on a job and help your confidence. Good luck and don’t give up!

  2. Please help! I have a learning disorder (screened for dyslexia in 2013) My employer is requiring that I have documentation of my condition from an MD. I am struggling to find a Doctor within my budget who will diagnose me! I was referred to ONE Licensed Educational Psychologist who charges 3k and up for testing. I do not have that kind of money. Please, does anyone know where I can get tested as an adult in California (Bay Area) Low Income* Also, would the facilator who screened me be enough documentation for an employer to offer reasonable documentation?? On the verge of losing my job. Please help. Thanks

    • LDA of America says

      There’s information about learning disability evaluations at https://ldaamerica.org/adult-learning-disability-assessment-process/. The information includes what an assessment entails, who can do the assessment and how to find affordable resources for testing, and questions to ask the evaluator before testing begins. Pay special attention to the resources listed. You may be able to find affordable testing at your local mental health clinic or your local Vocational Rehabilitation Services office. If neither of those are able to help, they may be able to refer you to someone local who can do an affordable assessment. Sometimes a college or university with a graduate program in psychology will do LD assessments on a sliding scale, so that’s another place to check.

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