On Monday, I wrote about whether to disclose a disability in a job interview. The comments in the ensuing discussions conveyed just about the same indecision I have about the topic. Of course, if you find out in an interview that the job requires a function that you can't perform due to a limitation, it's best to make that clear right away. The hiring manager may make some modifications to the job description.
On the other hand, if you accept the job without making your limitations clear, and then can't perform as you are expected to, you've wasted everyone's time. And don't think getting your foot in the door will forestall any punitive action later on. In a paper published by Ernst and Young on non-visible disabilities, it is stated that "disability doesn't excuse poor performance, nor does it protect you from any actions that may result."
And I agree with many of the posters who mentioned that they wouldn't disclose a non-visible disability that wouldn't interfere with their jobs.
If you decide to disclose a disability, how do you do it? Ernst and Young say you should start by stating the nature of your disability and your need for reasonable adjustments. You don't need to give full medical details but you should be prepared to explain how your disability impacts your work.
You can find more information on the Job Accommodation Network website. It's a free, government-sponsored resource that provides an overview of specific disabilities, discusses possible accommodations, and lists relevant equipment and service providers.
Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.