Myth #1: I Can't Work because of My Disability

My doctor or other important people in my life have told me that I cannot work. They say it is too stressful and may make my condition worse.Your disability may impact the kinds of jobs you can do and the number of hours you’re able to work. However, many people with disabilities are finding that with good, thoughtful preparation and support, they are able to succeed at jobs that are satisfying and meaningful to them. It is common to have fears about your ability to work. You may be nervous about leaving your house, finding transportation to and from work, incurring new work-related expenses, and handling your new work schedule. It is normal to have these concerns, but there are many resources and laws that will support you.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

This law makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against people with disabilities if they are qualified for a job. This includes all areas of employment, such as interviewing, hiring, firing, training, promotions, and benefits. Often, with reasonable accommodations you can be successful at more jobs than you may have thought possible. Employers are required by law to offer reasonable accommodations, so that you can do your job. These accommodations will be different from person to person, depending on each person’s needs and job setting.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) can help you prepare for, find, and keep work. The services will be different from person to person, depending on individual needs. VR will work with you to figure out which services you will need. You and a VR counselor will develop a plan to help you reach your work goals. If you get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), VR is also an example of an agency where you can use your Ticket to Work. To read more about VR services and locate an office in your area, click here.

Job Coach

A job coach is a person who offers specialized on-site training to help you with learning and performing your job and adjusting to the work environment. A job coach can help you with work-related concerns, such as how to talk to your boss about questions you have on the job and what accommodations you may need. You might have a job coach through your Ticket to Work Program, Vocational Rehabilitation, or through another agency.

Disability Disclosure

People with disabilities often wonder if they should tell their potential employers about their disability. And, if they decide to do so, should they disclose their disability during the interview, when they get a job offer, or after they have been hired. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the only reason to disclose your disability is if you need to request a reasonable accommodation from your employer to perform an essential function of your job. There are many reasons you may want, or not want, to disclose your disability. This decision will vary from person to person and from situation to situation.

You may not have the option to not disclose your disability (for example, you may need to ask if the interview location is accessible or you may need an interpreter for the interview). If that’s the case, you will need to carefully write a disclosure statement to the employer. Remember to focus on your abilities, not your disabilities. For more information, you can contact the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). JAN offers information and one-on-one consultations about work place accommodations. To learn more about JAN, click here.

You can get a job

Some people think nobody will hire them because they have a disability.

That’s not true: Employers will hire you. Employers want:

  • Employees who can do excellent work.
  • Employees with diverse backgrounds and experiences that help increase productivity and innovation.
  • Employees who represent the community in which they provide their products and services.

This includes people with disabilities and employers know that.

It’s your choice how much you tell an employer about your disability:

  • Employers cannot ask you to tell about a disability before or after you get a job.
  • Employers cannot discriminate against a person who has a disability.

And once you start work:

  • You can decide if you want to ask for a reasonable accommodation that helps you succeed at work. Many reasonable accommodations are free or low-cost for employers.
  • Many employers have disability inclusion policies.
  • Many employers have support groups for employees with disabilities.

The bottom line: Employers hire people who they think are skilled, qualified, and have something to offer. Once you get a job, you and your employer have the same goal: for you to succeed.

Learn more about disclosing a disability or asking for a reasonable accommodation in DB101’s Job Supports and Accommodations article.