Disclosing Adversity

Excerpt of Article by James Gower| The Guardian

Be open about disability – a more diverse workforce is better for everyone. Photograph: Marc Anderson/Alamy
Be open about disability – a more diverse workforce is better for everyone. Photograph: Marc Anderson/Alamy

Career advisers told me to hide my disability on applications, but being open and turning [adversity] into a strength helped me get a job.

Recent research conducted by greatwithdisability.com noted 77% of disabled applicants were fearful of disclosing their disability in case of discrimination.

I have cerebral palsy, a physical disability I’ve had since being born 11 weeks premature. Due to my disability, I walk with two walking sticks, can only walk short distances, and have trouble balancing unaided. My life has been a constant adaption to the norm. I went to a specialist primary school before being integrated into mainstream education. I went through my childhood not having the ability to ride a bike or play football; thus I spent my time at adapted youth clubs and playing disability sport. I drive a car with adapted hand controls instead of conventional pedals. These adaptions and adjustments have become common place in society, though the working world is often seen as being steps behind.

My biggest fear when applying for graduate roles was that my disability would mean I’d be phased out or not considered to be up to standard. It’s an incredibly difficult position to be in. How do I accurately, yet positively, portray my disability? When, if at all, do I disclose my disability to my potential employer? And, how can I be sure my disability doesn’t affect my ability to do my job, especially once I’ve been hired and I’m in the working environment for real?

To read the complete article written by James Gower, click here.

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Thank you to James Gower for writing the article; The Guardian for committing its resources to the article; Google for helping me find the article; and everybody who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to include the picture and text in this post.


  1. I don’t believe there is a universal “right time” to disclose a disability because this question is dependent upon many factors some specifically related to each individual employer/employee relationship. It is important to carefully weigh the possible benefits and detriments of each choice and be prepared to go with both both.
    Disclosure can happen by accident (as it has to me)

    1. Esther, your suggestion is a very insightful approach. Prior to reading your comment, I thought full disclose was the only honest approach. Now, I see your point that the truth depends on the relationship.

    1. Angela, Although I live in California, some people who read this blog are not from America. Furthermore, some of the information on my blog is contributed by authors who are not in America. I appreciate your pointing out an agency that does not cater to the needs of everybody regardless of location, but I am not sure what to do about the discrepancy. Do you have any suggestions? I value your input.

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