Career Preparation & Resources
Reasonable Accommodations are any actions or adjustments that help alleviate a disadvantage that you experience because of your disability or learning difficulty. When you came to Trinity and met with your Disability Officer you took the first step to organising your Reasonable Accommodations for Trinity. Maybe these included Extra time for Exams or alternative accessible formats for materials or extra time with library books or a piece of software such as TextHelp for your computer. Whatever they were, they have to be organised and when you start a work experience the process is similar.
If you are starting a work experience during your time at college it is important to liaise with your Disability Officer / Occupational Therapist and your Practice Co-ordinator (if appropriate) to make sure you are best prepared and you have any reasonable accommodations that you need. This can be done through the Professional Placement Planning process. If you decide not to disclose it is still a good idea to discuss potential challenges that you think you may face.
A good first step is to ask yourself these questions:
- How can I decide if I want to disclose what ‘reasonable accommodations’ I might need to my new employers?
- How can I go about organising ‘reasonable accommodations’ with my new employers?
- Do I think there would be advantages or disadvantages and how would I like to manage the potential situations that I will be in?
Think about your experiences within Trinity, your exams, your assignments, your classes. Before you started it was difficult to know how to manage them but once you got going and had some support was it a bit easier?
Work Experiences will be similar so you must make preparations BEFORE you start!! For information, guidance and student experiences check out the booklets below:
During the course of your student journey here in Trinity, you may have disclosed a disability in different ways to your course, to student services or to other students. This may have be done informally by approaching lecturers or students, or formally through a Learning Education Needs Summary from the Disability Service or through your Trinity tutor in some instances.
Disclosure in a work context is just a formal term for discussing your disability with your employers. It means informing your employer, or potential employer, of your disability. You will need to consider whether you wish to disclose your disability, and if you do, when, and how. Whatever you decide, it’s important to know that disclosure is a personal, individual choice and you have no legal obligation to disclose your disability.
If you do decide to talk about it with your employers, you can disclose at any stage of the job application process or you can also disclose after you have started in a job. However, there are a lot of benefits to disclosing within plenty of time; for example, many graduates choose to discuss their disability in order to highlight skills, encourage understanding, and to obtain supports or accommodations. Other reasons can be for health and safety reasons or to secure time off for due to illness or appointments.
Some students say that they don’t need to disclose their disability because they feel that their disability is unlikely to impact them in a particular job; and some people feel they might receive differential treatment within the recruitment process or in the work environment.
It is okay to have views either way. However, it is still a good idea to give it a lot of thought in case you change your mind in the future (for example, if your personal circumstances or employment conditions / tasks change). When discussing your disability, preparation is the key; know what you want to say, and ensure you get your message across clearly.
Please see the AHEAD Booklet on Disclosure, a comprehensive resource, which introduces you to the relevant legislation and provides good examples.
How much information should I disclose?
Again, this is a personal choice and will depend on why you are disclosing. You only need to disclose the details that are necessary for the purpose of receiving supports and as you see fit. You do not need to disclose your whole medical history. However, ensure you provide sufficient information to allow your employer to support you effectively.
Do state clearly how your disability may impact your everyday work and any adjustments that may be required to complete your job effectively. Offer more than a medical term; this will not help your employer support you. Do highlight the skills and attributes you have developed whilst living with a disability. Do help allay any anxieties your new employer may have by describing how you have managed your disability in previous jobs, and within your study.
Organising a Pre-Work Experience meeting with your Disability Officer
The important thing to remember is that you don't have to do this on your own. You can make an appointment to come and see your Disability Officer and discuss how you will manage these new situations.
Rather than shy away from this area of experience, it is important to tackle these challenges. You will feel more ready for the workplace after college if you do, so don't put it off!
For more advice and suggested activities for how to prepare for the different stages of a new work experience or placement, including organising a pre-placement planning meeting with your Disability Officer, give us a call at (01) 8963111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and take a look at the following guides: