Career Resources for Students with Disabilities
The Office of Career and Professional Development strives to assist students with disabilities and related accessibility concerns as they prepare for the student-to-career transition. This page provides various career-related resources and information about considerations to take into account before disclosing a disability, the pros and cons of disclosing at key points in the application process, requesting accommodations, finding a job or internship, and similar resources for individuals with disabilities.
Disclosing a Disability
If, and when, you should disclose your disability is a personal decision that must be made after careful consideration of the pros and cons of disclosing at different points in time. If you have a visible disability you may want to disclose it early on in the process – at the time that you’re scheduling an interview (no earlier). If you disclose before receiving a request for an interview you may be the victim of discrimination without having any proof. However, if you disclose at the time an employer contacts you to schedule an interview you allow yourself the opportunity to sell yourself and your accomplishments. Disclosing at this time also avoids a “shock effect” resulting in the interviewer being distracted by your disability and therefore unable to focus on you and your answers in the moment of the interview.
There are many helpful resources on the Internet if you search for help on when and how to disclose. Below are links to a few very helpful PDFs on the topic.
- Disclosing a Disability in a Job Search – provides a great overview of considerations when disclosing and sample scripts to guide you if you decide to disclose.
- Disclosure Decisions – provides a great overview of considerations when disclosing and sample scripts to guide you if you decide to disclose.
- Disclosure Worksheet – provides thought-based questions and space to capture your thoughts as you work through how to disclose.
Additional Guides for Disclosing
Requesting accommodations can be a bit overwhelming but advance preparation and educating yourself is very important. Accommodations can be requested at any point but should be made if there is any physical barrier preventing you from participating in the application/interview process, performing the job functions outlined in the job description, or accessing employee-designated spaces (break rooms, restrooms, parking lots, etc.). In addition, as soon as you are aware that your performance or quality of work is being or could be impacted.
Job Resources for Individuals with Disabilities
- ABILITY Jobs – contains thousands of jobs, a résumé bank of over 100,000 job seekers, and access to virtual career fairs featuring video, text, captioning, and sign language resources.
- Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (COSD) – has five different accessibility modes and provides a job portal, disability etiquette videos/PDFs, and much more.
- DisABLEDPerson.com – is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to reduce the high unemployment rate of individuals with disabilities and features over 300,000 job openings and a list of resources related to multiple topics including job search, accessibility, and more.
- Entry Point! – offered through the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and is designed to recruit screen, and refer qualified students with disabilities to company and university research program partners for ten-week paid summer internships.
- GettingHired.com – this website contains over 170,000 jobs across the United States. Search for internships, remote work, contract, temp, and full-time positions. Find resources and blog topics related to résumé writing, interviewing, military veterans and spouses, working from home, and an individual company’s approach to inclusiveness.
- Hire Disability Solutions – provides recruitment services, consulting, and training for job seekers and companies nationwide.
- RecruitDisability.org – offers a résumé builder, salary tools, and the ability to set up job alerts for opportunities in government, engineering, business administration, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, and information technology.
- Sierra Group’s One More Way Foundation – serves job seekers, vocational rehabilitation professionals, and businesses with the aim of increasing employment opportunities for Americans and veterans with disabilities.
- Talent Acquisition Portal – includes both a national talent pool of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) candidates looking for employment and a job posting system for businesses looking to hire individuals with disabilities.
Resources for the Visually Impaired
Career Connect – an employment information resource for job seekers who are blind or visually impaired. Provides employment information, career exploration tools, and job-seeking guidance for individuals with vision loss and the professionals who work with them.
Visually Impaired Advancement – a nonprofit rehabilitation and social services agency committed to people who are experiencing vision loss whose mission is to assist people who are visually impaired to achieve their highest level of independence. Provides tools, education, rehabilitation, job training, job placement, and support for people of all ages.
Tax Incentives and Government Programs
The government offers several programs and tax incentives to offset the cost incurred by employers providing accommodations. Be ready to educate prospective or current employers on the following resources if needed:
- Job Accommodation Network (JAN) – Access information on how much medical information to provide and types of accommodations for various disabilities via Medical Inquiry in Response to an Accommodation Request
- National Science Foundation’s Facilitation Awards – provides funding for special assistance or equipment to enable people with disabilities (investigators and other staff, including student research assistants) to work on an NSF project.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does it mean to have a disability as it relates to the law?
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the legal definition refers to an individual who:
- has a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities.
- has a record of such an impairment or is regarded as having such an impairment.
Does a disability disqualify me from a job?
No. A “qualified applicant/employee” is someone who can perform the essential functions of a job with or without reasonable accommodations.
What is meant by “reasonable accommodation”?
Accommodations are adjustments made by an employer allowing an individual equal ability to perform a job and equal access to the worksite. A reasonable accommodation does not result in “undue hardship,” meaning it does not require significant difficulty or expense to implement based on the employer’s size and revenue. This does not, however, include reducing quality or production standards.
Reasonable accommodations might include:
- making the physical workplace accessible to individuals with disabilities (consider wheelchair access, for instance)
- job restructuring modified work schedules, or reassignment to a different position while still expecting the same quality of work and productivity expected from other employees
- acquiring or modifying equipment or devices
- changing tests, training materials, policies, etc.
- medical leave
- work-from-home arrangements
Examples of things that are not reasonable include lowering standards, eliminating an essential function of the job, and providing items for personal use (glasses, hearing aids, wheelchairs, etc.).
Last updated: 9/20/2022