What is a disability? Am I included?

When applying for jobs, you are often asked the question ‘Do you have a disability?’ or ‘Do you consider yourself to have a disability?’

It can be difficult to know how to answer this, not least because the word 'disability' tends to have negative connotations and suggests limitation rather than ability. It can also be seen as a harsh label that people don’t wish to identify with. It's a very broad term and it is difficult to know what is included and therefore, whether or not you do have a disability.

A useful way to consider the question is to instead think about the following:

1. What is covered by the term 'disability'?

Disability and long-term health conditions cover a broad spectrum of conditions including, but not limited to: visual and hearing impairments, mobility impairments, Asperger’s Syndrome, diabetes, epilepsy, dyslexia, dyspraxia, mental health conditions, speech impairments and major illnesses such as cancer and MS.

2. Why is the employer asking you this question?

There are a number of reasons that the employer is asking you this question during the recruitment process, however, the main reason is to understand what support you may require to demonstrate your potential.

They are therefore not really interested in what your disability is as opposed to knowing how they can best support you.

3. How is the information used?

Any information you provide during the recruitment process is treated in confidence. It will not be shared beyond the recruitment team with, for example hiring managers, unless you have give your permission for this to happen.

At this point, the information is solely used to put in place the support and adjustments that you may need during the recruitment process.

4. What support may you need during the recruitment process?

As a result of your disability or long-term health condition you may need the recruitment process to be changed or for support to be provided in order for you to demonstrate your suitability for the role.

Whilst it can be difficult to know what you may need, as every process is different, it is worth spending time really thinking about what you may need at each stage of the process in order that you can do your best.

To find out more about adjustments during the recruitment process, download our free e.books on Adjustments in the Recruitment Process.

5. Position your disability positively

Whatever information you share with a prospective employer, it is important to do so positively. When you have a disability, it's too easy to think of things you can't do, can no longer do, or things you find difficult. Instead think about the skills and abilities that you have developed as a result of having a disability.

At MyPlus, we don’t believe that having a disability makes you not any more special than anyone else but that it gives you something extra; a ‘plus’. And these are the skills and abilities that you have had to develop in order to manage your disability on a day-to-day basis in a world that is not always geared up to it. 

Skills such as determination, problem solving and interpersonal skills are examples of this. So when positioning your disability, draw on these skills and provide the employer with a positive picture of who you are.

For some great examples of how applicants have identified their strengths, download our free e.books on Communicating Your Strengths.

For further advice and guidance join our free webinar series. To register for ‘What is a Disability: am I included?’ CLICK HERE

About MyPlusConsulting

MyPlus Students' Club provides students with disabilities and long-term health conditions the advice, support and confidence to find opportunities, approach relevant organisations and go on to realise new possibilities with progressive employers.