Disclosing Your Disability and Requesting an Accommodation

From the time you fill out your application to when you begin your new apprenticeship, you may feel unsure about how or when to disclose your disability to your employer or apprenticeship sponsor. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) safeguards your rights as a person with disability from discrimination in the workplace.

Advancing your career through inclusive apprenticeship

Becoming an Apprentice

Disclosing your disability and requesting an accommodation

When should you disclose your disability?

Disclosing your disability is voluntary. You should only disclose your disability if/when you feel comfortable and when you need to request a reasonable accommodation. When applying for an apprenticeship, this request may be made during the application process, hiring process, or after you have been hired as an apprentice.[1]

What is a reasonable accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is an adjustment or modification to the job or workplace environment that will allow you, the apprentice with a disability, to participate in the application process, perform the job, and/or to receive employee benefits that are equal to that of employees without disabilities.[2]

Examples of reasonable accommodations may include but are not limited to the following supports:

  • Adjusting or modifying your work schedule, such as needing time off to go to a weekly doctor’s appointment related to your disability.
  • Providing assistive technology or devices, such as magnification software for a visual impairment or closed captioning for an interview or meeting held on a web conferencing platform.
  • Acquiring, adjusting, or modifying equipment or devices, such as adjusting the height of your desk or an adjustable chair.
  • Adjusting or modifying tests or training materials, such as providing additional time to review materials and complete activities to support people with learning disabilities.

Browse the Job Accommodation Network’s (JAN) Searchable Online Accommodation Resource (SOAR) for more examples of accommodation.

To whom should you disclose your disability?

Review your organization’s employee handbook to learn your employer’s process for voluntarily self-disclosing your disability status. You may also consult with your apprenticeship manager or your organization’s human resources department on how to disclose your disability or request an accommodation. You are under no obligation to tell everyone at work that you have a disability or share any details about it or your request for an accommodation. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires your employer to keep your disability and related medical information confidential. Your employer may share this information with your manager on a strictly need-to-know basis.[3]

How should you disclose your disability?

When disclosing your disability, you do not have to use specific terminology, such as “the ADA” or “reasonable accommodation.” You also do not have to provide full details about your disability. Simply state your disability, describe your challenge(s), and explain what type(s) of accommodation(s) you may need. Your employer may respond with suggestions for alternative accommodations, which you can discuss together to find an accomodation that best suits your needs.[4]

What should I do if I experience discrimination?

As an applicant or apprentice, you are entitled to a workplace that is free from discrimination, harassment, bullying, intimidation, and other toxic behaviors. Apprenticeship programs prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, disability, age (40 years or older), sexual orientation, and genetic information. Furthermore, sponsors of Registered Apprenticeship must take affirmative action to recruit, hire, retain, and advance apprentices with disabilities.[5] Visit Apprenticeship.gov to learn more about how you are protected against discrimination and what to do if you believe you have experienced discrimination.[6]

Where can I go to learn more about disability disclosure and accommodations?

  • Job Accommodation Network (JAN): Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, JAN provides free and confidential information about job accommodations and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): EEOC enforces Federal laws that protect employees, including apprentices, from discrimination in the workplace. EEOC provides information about discrimination and the steps to take if an employee experiences discrimination in the workplace.
  • ADA National Network provides free and confidential information, guidance, and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act. ADA Specialists address all aspects of the ADA and other disability laws. Examples of ADA topics include employment, reasonable accommodations, and transitioning from school to work.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity in Registered Apprenticeship: As an apprentice or prospective apprentice, you are entitled to a safe workplace that is free from discrimination. Learn more about the laws and regulations that protect your rights as an apprentice or applicant for apprenticeship at Apprenticeship.gov.

Additional Resources

References

[1] Enforcement Guidance on Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship under the ADA, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

[2] Enforcement Guidance on Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship under the ADA, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

[3] Enforcement Guidance on Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship under the ADA, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

[4] Enforcement Guidance on Reasonable Accommodation and Undue Hardship under the ADA, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

[5] Final Rule Apprenticeship Equal Employment Opportunity Regulations (29 CFR Part 30), U.S. DOL ETA

[6] Equal Employment Opportunity in Registered Apprenticeship, U.S. Department of Labor, Apprenticeship.gov