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Career Considerations for Individuals with Disabilities Webster University I Career Planning & Development Center

Information and website links have been provided as a convenience for users and the Webster University Career Planning & Development Center (CPDC) is not responsible for the contents of any linked site. This resource is not a comprehensive list.

Students with disabilities encounter specific considerations in their career development. Find resources and tips below on various topics.

Overview

  • Employee Protections
  • Disclosure
  • Accommodations
  • Workforce Recruitment Program
  • Job Search Resources

Employee Protections

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects the rights of individuals with disabilities at the federal level. Find resources below to learn more about the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other legislation as well as ways to report discrimination.

Researching Employers

Research employers by exploring company websites, reviews, social media, and news articles. It can also be helpful to connect with mentors or other professionals through alumni or personal connections, professional organizations, etc.

As you research employers, consider some of the following questions:

  • Are there employee resource groups that pertain to you?
  • Are there clear non-discrimination policies posted on their site or employee handbook?
  • Is inclusive diversity something that is valued by the company? Included in their mission/values/initiatives?
  • Is there a clear contact, process, or information about benefits and accommodations?
  • If you requested accommodations or had questions related to your disability (e.g., location of an accessible entrance for an interview), how smooth was that process?
  • Does the organization visibly support employees with disabilities and related causes and organizations? (e.g., inclusive marketing, donating or volunteering for relevant events or causes)
  • How accessible is the company and website?

Use the resources below to explore companies that are noted for greater inclusivity.

Disclosure

People choose to disclose at different points in the job search. You can choose what feels the best to you as you are not obligated to share this information. Keep in mind what you need to be most successful in the job search process and in your career and how that might impact when you disclose.

Many find it beneficial to disclose to their employer at some point so they can be in an environment that will allow them to be at their best. Some individuals will disclose after they are contacted for an interview as they may need to know about accessibility information or request an accommodation as part of the interview. Others may choose to disclose information at the interview itself. It is also an option to wait until you receive a job offer or after you start a position.

Some people may not disclose at all if they feel they do not need accommodations to be successful in their work. While it can be prudent to choose wisely who you share the information with, employers often will not retroactively change their documentation of performance or disciplinary issues. If you start feeling like your job performance could be/is impacted then it is much better to be proactive and have that conversation early before you start having challenges.

Find more guidance about disclosure at the Job Accommodation Network (JAN).

Accomodations

As JAN notes, "In general, an accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way things are customarily done that enables an individual with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities." The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) specifies that employers must provide "reasonable" accommodations to employees with disabilities. A survey by JAN found that most employers reported there was no cost for providing accommodations and when there was a cost, it was a median expense of $500.

You will need to communicate with Human Resources and/or the supervisor for that position about needed accommodations. Keep the information you share relevant to the position. Explain the challenge and what that means to the employer. For example, you might ask something like the following in an interview: I have low vision and need to use a screen reader when working on the computer. What assistive technology does your company have access to? JAN has a Sample Accommodation Request Letter that may be helpful in determining what information to share.

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) features SOAR, a searchable online accommodation resource as well as staff to help answer more specific questions about accommodations.

Workforce Recruitment Program

The Workforce Recruitment Program (WRP) is an opportunity for college students and recent graduates with disabilities to connect with federal employment opportunities. The program, managed by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Human Resources Activity’s (DHRA) Diversity Management Operations Center (DMOC), focuses on increasing the representation of persons with disabilities in the federal workforce.

To be a part of the program, Webster candidates must register for an account and complete the online application by the deadline in early fall. Phone interviews will be conducted by WRP recruiters typically in late October and November. Candidate information will be loaded into the employment database around December and will remain active for one year.

Learn more about qualifying and applying for the Workforce Recruitment Program. Additional information is available through the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

Credits:

Created with images by Fort George G. Meade - "National Disability Awareness Month" • witwiccan - "law books legal" • Corinne Kutz - "untitled image" • Fort George G. Meade - "National Disability Awareness Month" • MDGovpics - "Deaf and Hard of Hearing Awareness Day" • Nik MacMillan - "untitled image" • StartupStockPhotos - "student typing keyboard"