Stock photo of a job interview handshake

Knowing when and even if to disclose a disability can be challenging for students who are seeking internships or full-time jobs. During the hiring process, it’s unclear for many how to share information about a disability with an employer for the purpose of receiving accommodations. 

Rachel Brunello
Rachel Brunello (MHRM '20)

Disclosing one’s disability is a completely personal decision and is typically needed when a barrier prevents someone from competing for a job, performing a job or gaining equal access to a benefit. Employers should understand candidates’ rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and provide reasonable accommodations to those who need it.

A big takeaway we highlighted as part of our research is for student-facing staff to remember that students may need guidance on choosing if and when to disclose a disability, as well as the importance of providing a safe space for students to practice and ask questions. 

As part of the Master of Human Resource Management program at Fisher, we learned about the ADA and employer “DO’s and DON’Ts” when it comes to hiring. In a presentation by the Office of Student Life Disability Services (SLDS) we learned that over 4,000 students at Ohio State are registered with the office, including hundreds at Fisher. 

Check out more stories and insights from the Office of Career Management's 2019-20 Annual Report

Since the majority of disabilities are those that are hidden or invisible, coupled with the fact that not every student at Ohio State with a disability is registered with the SLDS office, we imagine the actual number of students with disabilities who utilize the Office of Career Management (OCM) each year to be even more. The OCM did not offer any information or resources on disability disclosure to students, staff or employers, so we saw an opportunity to address this need. 

Using research and information from career services offices at other universities, the Job Accommodation Network and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, we created a number of resources designed to support the needs of students with disabilities throughout their career journey. 

Access the comprehensive disability disclosure guide

These resources included materials specifically for recruiters working with the OCM to improve their interview processes and employer-student connections for those with disabilities. We also created internal training materials developed for Fisher’s Undergraduate Programs office and future graduate administrative associates to increase their knowledge on disability disclosure and to enhance student appointments and career outcomes. 

— Rachel Brunello (MHRM ’20) and Hannah Britton (MHRM ’20) served as graduate administrative associates in the Office of Career Management. Their research into disability disclosure and accessibility was presented to OCM staff and has helped established disclosure guidelines and practices utilized by the office.