Disclosing a Disability

Disclosure Questions and Answers:
Telling Interviewers or Employers that You Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

When you are looking for a co-op or full-time position, one of the things you need to consider is when or if you inform an employer that you are deaf or hard of hearing. There is not one right or wrong way. Each applicant should make a personal decision on this issue, for example: to inform on a resume or cover letter, or to wait until invited for an interview. Some employers have reported that they appreciate knowing your communication preference before the interview so they can make appropriate arrangements for communication.

Q: Whose responsibility is it to bring up accommodations?

A: It is your responsibility to tell the employer if you will need accommodations to do the job. For information on accommodations, go to this webpage. If you do not tell the employer you need an accommodation, they are not responsible to provide one. Have several accommodation options ready (for example, interpreter, writing, laptop, speechreading), because your preference may not be possible or available.

Q: What steps shall I take if the employer wants to do the interview (or just the first interview) by telephone?

A: Many companies today routinely interview (screen) applicants briefly by telephone first, then decide if they will interview them in person. If the employer prefers a telephone interview, consider what technology (relay service, instant messaging, captioned telephone) will be best for you. Reply quickly to an employer's request for a telephone interview. Be ready to suggest what will best fit your needs, and explain how and why that will work.

Q: What do I need to do to make sure we have good communication for a face-to-face interview?

A: The interview is an important time to have several accommodation options ready (for example, interpreter, writing, laptop, speechreading), because your preference may not be possible or available.

If you want to have a sign language interpreter, it is a good idea to be ready to provide the employer with contact information for interpreter/referral agencies in the area that can provide that service. You can get information about agencies on the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf website

Be prepared to discuss how you would handle all aspects of communication on the job–meetings, telephone contacts and conversation.

Q: If I have other disabilities do I need to inform my employer?

A: If you have other disabilities and do not need any accommodations to do the job, there is no reason to inform your employer. For example, if you have a learning disability that is not related to your ability to do the job, then you do not have to share this with a potential employer.

If you have other disabilities and do need accommodations for the interview, or to do the job, it is your responsibility to tell them. If you do not tell the employer you need an accommodation, they are not responsible to provide one.

Q: If I have questions about disclosing my hearing loss or deafness to an employer, who should I talk to?

A: You can talk about disclosure and accommodations with your employment advisor, and your vocational rehabilitation counselor, if you have one.