Talking about your disability

Talking about your disability is often very personal.

It's a coming out.

It involves confessing to other people, who are more or less close to us, a part of us which is sometimes heavy to bear.

Talking about your disability is a journey, it is also the opportunity to accept yourself as you are, with our strengths and weaknesses. The workplace is the environment in which we spend most of our life. It is therefore important that we are comfortable there.

Myths about sharing your disability in the world of work

# 1 If I talk about my disability, the employer’s judgment will be biased because of legal obligations
  • If you have been selected for this position, it is because you have the skills. The obligation to employ people with disabilities is real and can be an advantage, but skills will always come first.
# 2 If I talk about my disability, the employer’s judgment will be biased because of prejudices (especially in interviews)
  • The main challenges are that recruiters know too little about the various handicaps and are especially aware of the constraints
  • To go beyond the bias, it is possible to talk about your disability
    • by explaining quickly what that implies in real situations allows the recruiter to better understand your handicap
    • talking about the strengths and successes you have gained as a result of your disability. You will show that disability is also an opportunity
# 3 If I talk about my disability, it will impose constraints on my employer, especially in terms of accommodation
  • Accommodation for people with disabilities is a legal obligation for companies. They are, depending on the case, partially or totally taken care of by the State.
  • Accommodation is also your right so that you can flourish at work and be able to work well
# 4 My colleagues will treat me differently if I talk about my disability
  • Just like you, your colleagues have special characteristics. Some are visible, others are not. Explaining your particularity to them and giving them advice on how to work with you will make your collaboration easier.
  • Some people will have biases, so it is important to explain concretely what your disability involves and to talk about the strengths and successes of your disability.

Talking about your disability: why and when?

Each person experiences their disability in a unique way. There is therefore no ready-made recipe for talking about your disability. The important thing is to talk about it as soon as it can help us in the professional world.
It is important to ask the right questions before talking about your disability
  • Is your handicap visible?
    • If so, it is better to talk about it. This allows you to be clear about your particularity. Recruiters / your colleagues know that you are different, if you do not say it clearly, they may have doubts and do not always dare to tell you about it. This facilitates communication with your colleagues
  • Does your disability have an impact on your job interview?
    • If so, it is best to talk about it before the interview. The employer will be able to adapt the interview to your needs and get information upstream about your disability. This will allow you to carry out the maintenance in the best conditions.
  • Does your disability have an impact on your daily tasks?
    • If so, it is better to talk about it. This will allow you to be clear about which tasks are easy for you, and which ones you need accommodations or supports. It will make your job easier and allow you to give your best
  • Would you need reasonable accommodation to be more comfortable and perform better on a daily basis?
    • If so, it is better to talk about it. It is very important to be comfortable at work for our personal and professional well-being, because it is the place where we spend the majority of our time. These accommodations are a legal requirement, and some are very easy to set up, so ask for them!
  • Does hiding your disability have an impact on your professional and / or personal life?
    • If so, it is better to talk about it. Carrying such a burden on a daily basis implies overcompensation with many consequences that are heavy to bear (fatigue, lack of confidence). The important thing is that you can be yourself and evolve as you are.
  • Are you ready to explain your disability if your employer doesn’t understand it?
    • The most difficult question. There are many ways you can talk about your disability
      • By yourself, orally
      • By yourself, in writing
      • By sharing the page of the handicapossible site corresponding to your handicap
      • By asking human resources to intervene with you
      • By asking an association or a loved one to intervene with you
    • The last section of this page will give you advice on how to explain your disability to your employer.
  • The occupational doctor
    • Priority: 1.
    • This is the first person you can talk to about your disability. The occupational physician is responsible for all health issues within the company. He is bound by medical confidentiality (he will not tell anyone about your disability without your consent) and may make requests for accommodation.
    • When you are in the recruitment process, you do not necessarily have access to the occupational doctor. When recruiting, the main point of contact is the recruiting team who will redirect you to the right people if needed.
  • Social worker
    • Priority: 2
    • The social worker is the person who is there to listen to you and support you without having a mandate within the company, unlike human resources. She will advise you when necessary and can assist you in the various procedures (RQTH and others)
    • Not all companies have an assigned social worker, but you can request to have one.
  • The disability mission
    • Priority: 2 when you are in office
    • The disability mission is in charge of setting up the disability policy and supporting employees with disabilities. By talking about your disability to the disability mission, it will be able to support you on a daily basis, set up the necessary arrangements and ensure that you are treated fairly throughout your career within the company.
    • To find the person in charge of the mission, do not hesitate to contact human resources if necessary.
    • Do not be afraid to contact your disability mission, its mandate is to support you.
  • HR
    • Priority: 1 during the recruitment period, 3 when you are in post
    • Human resources are your first points of contact when starting the recruiting process. These are the people who will be able to tailor the recruiting process to suit you and allow you to show your capabilities.
    • When you are on the job, human resources can direct you to the right contacts in order to talk about your disability (disability mission, occupational doctor)
  • The hierarchical superior
    • Priority: 3 when in office
    • Your line manager is the person who will define your tasks and objectives and assess the quality of your work. If he is aware of your disability, your accommodation needs and understands your strengths and weaknesses (related to disability or not), he can suggest tasks that suit you. and evaluate you fairly, without discriminating against you because you have a disability.
    • It is never easy to talk to your supervisor about it. However, this is very important so that your work is truly tailored to your needs. The disability mission can assist you in this process.
  • Colleagues
    • Priority: It depends. Priority 2 for colleagues to whom you are close and priority 4 for colleagues to whom you are less close.
    • Your colleagues are the people you work with on a daily basis. It can be reassuring to talk about your disability with people we trust before talking to people less close (other colleagues or supervisor).
  • On the CV or online application
    • How? ‘Or’ What? Put a line on your CV or application showing your disability. Otherwise, you can put that you are a member of an association or a project around disability, this is less precise but shows that you are touched for the cause. When talking about your disability, it is important to emphasize that it does not impact all of your skills.
    • Positive
      • The recruiter will be informed from the start of the recruitment process and can make the necessary arrangements.
    • Negative point
      • It is possible that some people have prejudices and this implies the decision on your application. The difficulty is that you can never know in advance.
  • Before an interview
    • How? ‘Or’ What? A few days before your interview, tell the recruiter that you have a disability, what this implies for you (in terms of needs and strengths) and the accommodations you may need
    • Whose? The person who called you for the interview
    • Positive
      • The recruiter can arrange the interview according to your needs and allow you to be in the best possible conditions.
    • Negative point
      • It is possible that some people have prejudices and that this impacts the interview. The more you are clear and educational about your presentation of your disability, the less these prejudices will impact you
  • During the interview
    • How? ‘Or’ What? Tell the recruiter that you have a disability at the beginning (preferably) or during the interview, what this implies for you (in terms of needs and strengths) and the accommodations you may need
    • Whose? The person you are interviewing with
    • Positive
      • The recruiter will be aware of your particularity. This may trigger a conversation
    • Negative point
      • Interviews may not be able to be adapted
      • It is possible that the recruiter has prejudices
  • At the time of the job offer
    • How? ‘Or’ What? Announce your handicap, what it means for you (in terms of needs and strengths) and the accommodations you may need when you are in post
    • Whose? To your human resources contact and / or to your future manager
    • Positive
      • Your company will be aware and will be able to facilitate your integration as well as all the necessary arrangements.
    • Negative point
      • The interviews could not be arranged, and this may require additional efforts
      • The employer may be surprised. However, you do not risk anything, because legally, the employer cannot withdraw his offer if he finds out that you have a disability.
  • When I’m already in office
    • How? ‘Or’ What? You can do this by email, in a team meeting or coordinate with human resources to determine the best approach for you.
    • Whose? Human resources or your colleagues
    • Positive
      • You can show off your skills and meet people you trust
    • Negative point
      • Your workstation could not be fitted out and this may have required additional efforts
      • It will be important to have an educational approach with your colleagues in order to avoid prejudices and to be clear about your needs your strengths

Prepare your text to announce your disability

Talking about his disability is getting ready. It doesn’t have to be long. Ideally, the presentation lasts between 1 and 2 minutes maximum
Your text can have several parts:
  • A presentation of disability (1 sentence)
  • An explanation of what it means for you on a daily basis (3-4 sentences)
    • Caution: We must speak both of the constraints but also of the forces
    • Specify the skills that it has an impact, and the one that it does not
    • It is also interesting to share your successes related to your disability
  • Examples of accommodations that can help you (2-3 sentences)
Here is an example written by a person who stutters
« I stutter, sometimes I take longer to speak, sometimes I get stuck on certain words. Stuttering affects my speech, but not my other faculties. This implies that at some meetings I can take a little more time. Every time I speak, I have to overcome my fear, it has taught me to never give up and to always take my courage with both hands. In order for me to be comfortable speaking, I would have to be warned a few hours before presenting in a meeting and be given a little more time . «