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As an individual with a disability, you may have unique questions about when and if you should disclose your disability, or even request accommodations, during your job search.

To succeed in career planning, it is important to take advantage of and seek out a variety of experiences in college. It is also critical that you discover your unique values, strengths and skills to give you the information you need to market yourself to potential employers.

Keep the following in mind before starting your job search to help find the right job for you.

Take a Personality Assessment

Personality and other career or self-discovery assessments are wonderful tools for helping to decide what sort of job would be right for you. Taking them for yourself will enable you to explore different career options; many employers also request that job candidates take personality and other psychological tests in order to gauge their strengths and predict whether they would fit well into their company culture.

Make a List of Your Skills

Write down a list of all of your professional hard skills (that you have achieved through your education or training) and of your soft skills (interpersonal skills like good communication, dependability, and flexibility). Then, review job announcements to see how your skills measure up to those requested in the “Preferred Qualifications” sections of the job description.

Be Willing to Develop New Skills

Although you probably have many of the competencies that employers are seeking, it never hurts to expand your skillset. For instance, if most of the interesting job ads you read request that you know a specific computer program, you’ll garner an excellent return on your investment of time and money by learning the software.

Our Career Development Center is staffed with coaches who would be happy to help you with career planning and decision-making. Appointments are encouraged, but not required.

JCCC Access Services

Access Services values the diversity disability brings to the college campus. Access Services provides students with disabilities equal opportunity and access to college programs and services so all students can participate in the full college experience available at Johnson County Community College. 

Visit the JCCC Access Services Webpage


What Is the ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that was passed in 1990. It prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.

The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.

The ADA is divided into five titles (or sections) that relate to different areas of public life.*

*“Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace,” ADA National Network, June 2020

Learn more about accommodations in the workplace

Equal Employment Opportunity

It unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a qualified applicant or employee with a disability. It is your right to request reasonable accommodations that are needed to fulfill required job duties. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website addresses common questions about how the ADA protects applicants with disabilities, including information on disclosure and discrimination.

Learn how the ADA protects applicants with disabilities

Disclosure in the Workplace

Job seekers with a disability may find themselves struggling with the questions: "Should I or shouldn't I disclose my disability?" “When is an appropriate time for disclosure?” This decision may also be influenced depending upon whether you have a visible disability or a non-visible disability. Ultimately, the decision of whether to disclose is entirely up to you.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy not only helps answer these questions, but also clarifies why disclosure might be necessary, how to disclose details regarding your disability, what and to whom to disclose, and protections and responsibilities to be aware of.

Learn about disclosure in the workplace


All employees must be able to perform the essential job duties required for a position, with or without accommodations. It is wise to consider what accommodations or tools may be needed to function in the work environment prior to being hired. Employers are required by law to provide reasonable accommodations to allow you to perform essential job duties. Depending on the nature of your disability, it is up to you when and if you choose disclosure.

Visit the Job Accommodation Network for updated guidance on workplace accommodations

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), it is illegal for employers to treat qualified applicants with disabilities unfavorably because they have a disability, a history of a disability, or because they are believed to have a physical or mental impairment that is not transitory and minor, even if the applicant does not have such an impairment.

The law also prohibits employers from asking job applicants to answer medical questions or take a medical exam before extending a job offer.

Illegal Questions*

  • Do you have a disability?
  • Have you ever filed for a workers’ compensation claim?
  • Have you ever been treated for mental health problems?
  • Do you have asthma or a heart condition, gout, etc.?

What Can Be Asked by an Employer

  • Employers may ask whether applicants would need reasonable accommodations to perform certain tasks central to the open position, and what accommodations would be needed.
  • Employers are also allowed to describe the physical requirements of a job and ask applicants to describe or demonstrate how they would perform the job.
  • Employers need to be careful to phrase questions in a way that answering would not force the applicant to reveal whether or not they have a disability.

*“Avoid Asking These Illegal Interview Questions,” CareerBuilder, Sept. 2018

Even when asked innocently by the employer, an illegal question can inadvertently lead the employer to discriminate against you. The basic rule of thumb to knowing whether a question is appropriate or not is: Does the question have anything to do with your work skills or experience for the job you are applying for?

So how do you respond to an illegal or uncomfortable interview question? Responding to inappropriate or illegal questions can be tricky. You can certainly choose to answer the question honestly, though a candid response could jeopardize your candidacy for the job. You can also refuse to answer the question, which may be appropriate in some situations, but can also make you seem defensive or unfriendly if the question was asked without ulterior motives. Luckily, there are ways to answer these questions without seeming evasive and without being offensive. Here are some techniques:

  • Gracefully avoid the question and steer the conversation elsewhere
  • Keep your answers short, broad and general
  • Redirect a question to your interviewer
  • Ask the interviewer why the question is relevant to your job

*Excerpts taken from “How to Handle Illegal (or Inappropriate) Interview Questions,” BigInterview, July 2020