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Job Seekers with Disabilities

You have the skills and the ability, but you also happen to have a disability. During your job search and on the job, you want your talents to shine through and the focus to be on all the things you can do. The Office of Career Services and Co-op is dedicated to providing services and resources to assist job seekers with disabilities achieve success throughout the job search process. For additional assistance with your job search, contact the Office of Career Services and Co-op at 585.475.2301 to schedule an appointment with your career services coordinator.

Work-related Accommodations

Federal law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodations to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer.

If you require accommodations from an employer during any phase of the employment process (from applying, to interviewing, to working in the job itself), it’s your responsibility to inform the employer that accommodations are needed (see Disclosing a Disability section for further information).

Prior to making a request for accommodations, it’s a good idea for you to think about the tasks for which you will need accommodations and learn about the accommodations you need – sharing this knowledge with your employer will demonstrate you have a solid understanding of your own needs and have already thought about possible solutions the company can implement to meet your needs. When requesting accommodations, you should be familiar with:

  • The specific accommodations required. (However, the employer doesn't have to provide the exact accomodation requested. If more than one accomodation is effective, the employer can select which one to provide).
  • The cost associated with each accommodation
  • Where the requested accommodations can be obtained/purchased

The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) is an excellent resource for accommodation ideas. JAN provides an online database of accommodation options that is searchable based on disability-/impairment-type and specific functional limitations, and also offers information on where specific accommodations can be purchased. You can also contact a JAN consultant for free advice regarding job accommodations.

Disclosing a Disability

Disclosure means sharing information about your disability for the purpose of receiving accommodations.

If you have a disability, it’s your personal choice whether or not you share information regarding your disability with an employer. Disclosure is not required, and if you can navigate the hiring process and perform the essential functions of the job without accommodations, it’s typically not necessary. However, in order to receive accommodations or receive other protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you do need to disclose.

Disclosure Preparation

Prior to disclosing your disability, you’ll want to prepare yourself for the discussion by taking the following steps:

  • Consider the pros and cons of disclosure, and the timing.
  • Review the phases of the hiring process that may present difficulties for you and/or the job duties you think will be difficult for you to perform due to your disability.
  • Come up with ideas for possible accommodations. These may be accommodations you have used in the past or accommodations you have researched (see the Work-related Accommodations section for further information).
  • Decide who you are going to disclose to (human resources representative, hiring manager, etc…).
  • Plan out how much you want to disclose and exactly what you want to say.

Disclosure Pros, Cons, and Timing

If you choose to disclose your disability, only you can decide when the right time is to share this information with an employer; however, it’s best to disclose prior to problems occurring on the job. Overall, the timing of your disclosure really depends on whether you will need an accommodation during any phase of the employment process.

Below are some pros and cons related to disclosure timing for you to consider when making this decision.

Time of Disclosure Pros Cons Notes
On resume, cover letter, and/or employment application Peace of mind for you – you’ve been up front with the employer. Draws attention to your disability rather than your skills. May disqualify you from the job before you have an opportunity to present your skills/abilities. Generally, disclosure on your resume, cover letter, or employment application isn’t recommended. However, some companies have employment programs specifically for applicants with disabilities; you will likely need to disclose your disability during the application process to be considered for these programs.
When employer contacts you for an interview Peace of mind for you – you’ve been up front with the employer. For visible disabilities, reduces potential “shock factor” when you arrive for the interview. May distract the interviewer from your skills and ability to do the job, so you may not be seriously considered for the position. Disclosure at this stage may be necessary if accommodations are needed during the interview process. For example, if you use a wheelchair, you will want to make sure the interview site is accessible. Also, if you need to utilize a sign language interpreter, you’ll need to plan for this ahead of time with the employer.*
During the interview Peace of mind for you – you’ve been up front with the employer. May enable you to present your disability in a positive and personal manner. May distract the interviewer from your skills and ability to do the job, so you may not be seriously considered for the position. Could make the interview more nerve-wracking for you.  
After the interview, before the offer Peace of mind for you – you’ve been up front with the employer. You and the employer were able to focus on your skills and abilities during the interview. Employer may feel you should have been up front about your disability earlier in the hiring process – you can address this concern by indicating you needed to learn more about the essential functions of the job prior to disclosing. You may not be seriously considered for the position.  
After the offer, before you accept If offer is rescinded, you may have legal recourse. Employer may feel you should have been up front about your disability earlier in the hiring process – you can address this concern by indicating you needed to learn more about the essential functions of the job prior to disclosing. This is often the best time to disclose.
After your start the job Gives you an opportunity to prove you’re capable of doing the job. If disclosure impacts your employment status, you may have legal recourse. Disclosure often becomes more difficult the longer you wait. Your job performance may suffer without appropriate accommodations. Employer may accuse you of falsifying your qualifications. You may not have legal recourse against unfavorable changes in your employment status. Changes in your job responsibilities after you start a position may result in you needing to request accommodations.
After a problem on the job You’ve had a chance to prove your capabilities related to the job. Relationship with employer and co-workers could be damaged. Employer may accuse you of falsifying your qualifications. You may not have legal recourse against unfavorable changes in your employment status. It is highly recommended that you disclose prior to problems occurring on the job.
Never Your disability doesn’t become a factor in hiring decisions. Employer doesn’t need to know about your disability as long as it doesn’t impact your ability to do the job. If disability is discovered, employer may accuse you of falsifying your qualifications. You may not have legal recourse against unfavorable changes in your employment status.  

* For interviews taking place on RIT’s campus, interpreting services can be requested by students through RIT’s Department of Access Services at For off-campus interviews, you will need to ask the employer to make arrangements for an interpreter; further information on this process is available at and a list of interpreting service providers can be found on the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.

Who to Tell

In the workplace, you should only disclose your disability to those who need to be involved in the accommodation process. This may include:

  • Human Resources
  • Your supervisor
  • Employee Assistance Program counselor – If you’re already working, have started experiencing problems, and need assistance determining how and to whom to disclose

Disclosure Script

To help you plan out exactly what you want to say and feel more comfortable with the disclosure process, prepare and rehearse your disclosure script in advance.

Your disclosure script should include:

  • A brief description of your disability – Be concise and avoid using clinical or technical terms that can be confusing and intimidating. You do not need to thoroughly discuss your diagnosis.
  • An emphasis on your job-related skills and abilities – You want to convey the message that you’re a qualified candidate with great skills who also happens to have a disability, rather than focusing just on your disability!
  • A description of the functional limitations related to your disability that may interfere with your job performance.
  • Suggestions for accommodations.

Utilize the following guide to prepare your own disclosure script:

  • Description of my disability
  • The key skills and abilities I possess related to this job are...
  • My functional limitations are...
  • The accommodations I need include...
  • Now, combine the sections above to create your disclosure statement

Here's a sample disclosure script for additional ideas

“I have (provide the preferred term for your disability). I have (list your key skills/abilities) and can perform the essential functions of this job, but sometimes (indicate your functional limitations) might interfere with my ability to (describe the duties you may have difficulty performing). It’s helpful if I have (describe the specific accommodations you need). “

Your Employment Rights

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects qualified individuals with disabilities from employment discrimination. If you have a disability, you must meet the following two criteria to be protected from employment discrimination by the ADA:

  • You must meet the employer’s requirements for the position related to skills, education, experience, and other areas.
  • You must be able to perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.

The ADA applies to private employers with 15 or more employees and all state and local government agencies regardless of the number of employees. (Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who work in the federal government).

Examples of prohibited employment practices under the ADA include:

  • An employer cannot engage in recruiting practices that discriminate against job seekers with disabilities. For example, if an applicant with a learning disability requires extra time to take a pre-employment test, the employer must modify the test to accommodate the applicant’s needs.
  • An employer cannot refuse to provide reasonable accommodations for a known disability during the interview process or on the job.
  • Prior to making a job offer, an employer cannot ask applicants questions that would likely reveal an applicant’s disability (however, these types of questions can be asked after a job offer has been made as long as the employer asks the same questions of all applicants offered the same type of job).
  • Prior to making a job offer, an employer cannot require applicants to undergo a medical exam (however, an employer can require a medical exam after a job offer has been made as long as the employer requires this of all applicants offered the same type of job).

More information regarding the ADA is available at and

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing the ADA. If you think you have been discriminated against in an employment situation on the basis of disability, you should contact:

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
(800) 669-4000 (Voice), (800) 669-6820 (TTY)

  1. Examples of prohibited employment practices under the ADA
  2. Social Security Disability Benefits while on Co-op

Social Security Disability Benefits while on Co-op

If you receive Social Security Disability benefits (SSI or SSDI), you must contact your SSI representative to discuss how you will handle your SSI/SSDI payments while on co-op. Usually, you will have to report your income to the Social Security Administration, however, this does not mean that the amount of benefits you will receive will change or that you will stop receiving benefits.

For more information, visit:

Spotlight on reporting your earnings to Social Security - 2015

How will working affect my Social Security Disability benefits?  

FAQs on Disability benefits from SSA

Interviewing Tips

Before the Interview

If you require an accommodation during the interview process, be sure to notify the employer well in advance so they are prepared to meet your accommodation needs. For example, if you use a wheelchair, you will want to make sure the interview site is accessible.

Also, if you need to utilize a sign language interpreter, you’ll need to plan for this ahead of time with the employer. For interviews taking place on RIT’s campus, interpreting services can be requested by students through RIT’s Department of Access Services at For off-campus interviews, you will need to ask the employer to make arrangements for an interpreter; further information on this process is available at and a list of interpreting service providers can be found on the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf or in the Yellow Pages under Deaf Organizations & Services.

Visit the Work-related Accommodations and Disclosing a Disability sections for more details on requesting needed accommodations.

During the Interview

The ADA restricts the types of questions an employer can ask during an interview; overall, employers are prohibited from asking questions that will likely expose an applicant’s disability prior to making an employment offer.

Examples of Appropriate Interview Questions Examples of Improper Interview Questions
Can you perform the essential duties of the job? (Interviewer should provide a description of the job duties before asking this question) Are you disabled? / Do you have a medical condition? / Have you ever been on disability leave?
Can you describe or demonstrate how you will perform the essential duties of the job? How severe is your disability? / What is your prognosis?
After you have disclosed you have a disability, it is appropriate for the interviewer to ask:


• Do you need a reasonable accommodation?

•What type of reasonable accommodation will be needed?

Do you need accommodations to perform this job? (This question is only appropriate after a job offer has been made or after you have voluntarily disclosed that you have a disability)

Chart adapted from Legal Q&A: Handling Improper Interview Questions by Nancy Conrad and Tanya Salgado, December 2007 NACE Journal

If you encounter an improper interview question such as those listed above, try not to take it personally – the interviewer most likely does not realize that the question he or she is asking is inappropriate. So, how should you respond?

When responding to an inappropriate interview question, you typically want to avoid answering the question directly, as you may provide information that could negatively impact your chances of getting hired. Likewise, you usually don’t want to outright refuse to answer the question, as this could result in making both you and the interviewer feel uncomfortable for the remainder of the interview.

The best course of action in this situation is to do the following:

Consider the intent of the question, and instead of responding to the improper question directly, respond in a way that addresses the question’s true objective.

  • Consider the intent of the question, and instead of responding to the improper question directly, respond in a way that addresses the question’s true objective.
    • For example, if the interviewer asks, “Are you disabled?,” you can interpret that the intent of this question is really “Can you perform the essential duties of this job?”. So, you may want to respond by saying “I’m assuming you’re asking this question because you want to know if I’m able to perform the essential duties of this job, and I assure you I’m capable of performing the essential functions related to this position.”
  • If you aren’t sure what the intent of the question is, ask the interviewer to further explain what it is he/she is asking.
    • For example, if the interviewer asks, “Have you ever been on disability leave?,” you can say, “I haven’t been asked this question before. Can you tell me more about what it is that you’d like to know?”

It’s important to note too that an employer can’t ask you to take a medical exam prior to offering you a job. However, after you have been offered a job, the employer can make your offer contingent on you completing a medical exam, but only if all applicants offered the same type of job have to take the exam. The employer can’t refuse to hire you due to disability-related information discovered during the exam if you can perform the essential functions of the job with or without an accommodation.

Job Search Resources

The employment programs and job databases below are tailored specifically for job seekers with disabilities. To maximize the effectiveness of your job search, these resources should be used in conjunction with other job search resources offered through the Office of Co-op and Career Services and those recommended by your Program Coordinator.

*To obtain co-op credit for a position obtained through one of these programs or job databases, the position should be a full-time, paid, work experience that is directly related to your field of study, and lasts at least 10 weeks for each co-op block. If a position does not meet these criteria, you must obtain co-op approval from your academic department prior to accepting the position.

General Resources

Job postings and career resources for students with disabilities

Appropriate for all majors, class years, and geographic preferences

Workforce Recruitment Program refers students and recent alumni with disabilites to positions within the federal government and private corporations. To be eligible, students must register, complete an application, and upload a resume. Students will then be invited to conduct a 30 minute phone interview, and will be referred to employers beginning in Jan. 2018. Student registration opens on August 28, 2017. 

Looking for a job? OurAbility posts employment opportunities for people with disAbilities, by people with disAbilities – Over two million jobs listed! Log in your LinkedIn or Facebook profile today! View How to video

AbilityLinks is a nationwide, web-based community where qualified job seekers with disabilities and inclusive employers meet and gain access to valuable networking opportunities.

Federal contractors with affirmative action plans and other equal opportunity employers use AbilityLinks to find qualified candidates with disabilities. Search for jobs, research mentoring opportunities, and view career resources.

GettingHired includes a job posting and resume database, career assessment and interview preparation tools, and career-related blogs and articles.

Bender Consulting Services is a consulting firm that helps people with disabilities find jobs related to IT, finance/accounting, engineering, HR, and general business.

DisABLEd Person Nation-wide full-time, internship, and co-op listings. 35,000 active jobs at any given time.

Hire Disability Solutions host job postings from companies committed to hiring individuals with disabilities

EOP's Diversity and Inclusion Career Center is a premier diversity online job board. We connect employers dedicated to hiring a diversified workforce with qualified job seekers in all career backgrounds

JobAccess enables people with disabilities to enhance their professional lives by providing a dedicated system for finding employment. Includes a job posting and resume database.

Project HIRED is a private, non-profit organization that provides a range of services to assist job seekers with disabilities conduct an effective job search, including retention support after being hired.

Lime offers excellent resources for students with disabilities. They provide scholarships and fellowships and the Lime Network offers professional development webinars and notification of internship and full time career opportunities. Their partners include Google, Bank of America, Target, Goldman Sachs, PepsiCo, and more.

Hire Potential is a leader in recruiting, hiring and retaining talent from the untapped workforce, including people with disabilities, veterans and the aging workforce.

Agencies and Organizations

Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation offers access to a full range of employment and independent living services that may be needed by persons with disabilities through their lives. For NYS permanent residents only. List of vocational rehabilitation providers by state

Networking Opportunities

Disability Mentoring Day (AAPD) Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) program connects nearly 16,500 students and job seekers with disabilities to thousands of employers each year. The 2011 events took place in over 200 locations across the country. DMD, held the third Wednesday in October, promotes career development through hands-on programs, job shadowing, and ongoing mentoring. This experience has helped thousands of past participants develop lasting relationships and secure internships or jobs.

For job-seekers on the Autism Spectrum

Autism hiring program at Microsoft

Microsoft has made a commitment to hiring qualified candidates for full-time, permanent positions in engineering, data science, and data analyst. Interested candidates can submit their resumes to

Specialisterne works to enable jobs for high functioning people with autism, and similar challenges, through social entrepreneurship, innovative employment models, and a national change in mindset. Those wishing to enter Specialisterne’s recruitment process and be referred to potential employers should fill out a survey available here.

Spectrum Careers is a resouce connecting job seekers on the Autism Spectrum with inclusive employers. Job seekers can log in to view over 15,000 job postings, and get instructions on how to show off their skills using a video resume. Traditional resumes are also accepted.  

ULTRA Testing is a technology company that provides high quality, highly responsive software testing services through exceptional teams that include individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome and similar Autism Spectrum profiles. ULTRA Testing is currently recruiting part-time, remote (work-from-home) software testers. Work duties include evaluating websites, smartphone applications and enterprise software, conducting thorough assessments of functionality and design, and writing detailed reports documenting issues discovered during the evaluation process.

Work available for part-time software testers can vary from week to week, ranging from over 20 hours during some weeks to 0 hours during other weeks. Software testing experience is not required, but a strong interest in technology and familiarity with different types of software is necessary. Long-term and eventual full-time employment is possible, and strong consideration is given to applicants who are actively seeking a long-term position. The recruitment process takes approximately eleven weeks, beginning with the completion of an online questionnaire and submission of an essay and resume/resume alternative. Instructions for these initial application steps are available on the online questionnaire.

Platinum Bay is a software company committed to developing high quality, competitively-priced, custom business software solutions and provide world-class technology leadership for our customers while providing safe and rewarding careers for Autistic employees through our supportive workplace. Candidates on the Autism Spectrum are encouraged to apply for technical, project management, or customer service roles, and flexible schedules and telecommuting are encouraged for employees. Information about available positions here.

Internship options for students with disabilities who…

Want to live in Washington, D.C.:

Each year, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) hosts two Summer Internship Programs for College Students with Disabilities in Washington, DC, providing paid travel to and from DC, paid fully-accessible housing, and living stipends. Open to current students, graduate students, and alumni within one year of graduation. More information and application can be found here: AAPD Summer Internship Program Applicants for the Summer 2018 program will open in September 2017 - join AAPD's mailing list to ensure you do not miss any important announcements!

Want an internship in business:

Emerging Leaders Summer Internship Program for College Students with Disabilities is coordinated by the National Business & Disability Council (NBDC) at The Viscardi Center. This highly competitive program places top undergraduate and graduate college students with disabilities in fulfilling summer internships nationwide that provide them with meaningful leadership development and networking opportunities. Apply to Emerging Leaders here

Are studying a STEM discipline:

Entry Point! Through AAAS (Advancing Science, Serving Society), Entry Point! Offers competitive internships, our partners pay real stipends and provide assistive technology and other reasonable accommodations. Travel funds and recommendations about accessible housing and transportation may also be provided to students who are relocating for the summer. Applications will be accepted for review beginning the first week of September - Apply early! Portfolio referral to our partners begins in October. More information and application here: Apply to Entry Point!

Are interested in public policy or public administration:

PPIA Junior Summer Institutes (JSI) prepare young adults for advanced degrees and ultimately for careers and influential roles serving the public good. PPIA has an outreach focus on students from groups who are underrepresented in leadership positions in government, nonprofits, international organizations and other institutional settings. PPIA JSI is an intensive seven-week summer program that focuses on preparing students for graduate programs in public and international affairs and careers as policy professionals, public administrators and other leadership roles in public service. The JSI curriculum includes economics, statistics, domestic/international policy issues and leadership topics, all designed to sharpen the students' quantitative, analytic and communication skills. There are JSI programs at UC Berkeley, the University of Michigan, Carnegie Mellon University, and Princeton University. Learn more and apply to JSI here

Are interested in developing leadership skills and gaining work experience:

The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars (TWC) is working to help students with disabilities develop leadership skills and gain valuable work experience in public service. The Washington Center compliments students' professional experience with solid academic training for credit from highly qualified instructors. In addition, students will be exposed to community, national and international leaders through workshops, seminars, lectures, embassy visits and networking events held throughout the course of each semester. Interns are offered a fully inclusive program, including accessible housing. More information and apply to TWC Internships here

Want to work in Advertising, sales, marketing, human resources, finance, or analytics

Google offers the Building Opportunities for Leadership & Development (BOLD) Internship Program. This program is designed to provide exposure into the technology industry for students who are historically under-represented in this field. It is an 11-week paid internship, personal and professional development programming, executive speakers and mentoring. More information and apply to BOLD

The Lime Connect Fellowship Program

The Fellowship Program is Lime Connect’s premier program in the United States. The program prepares students for the recruitment process and connects them with our corporate partners – PepsiCo, Google, IBM, Goldman Sachs, Target, Bloomberg, and JP Morgan.

Benefits include educational workshops, leadership/skill building, interview preparation, industry overviews, individual coaching and multiple opportunities to interact with partner companies. Fellows will participate in a five day Leadership & Development Symposium in New York City, webinars, organized mentor programs and a year-long post-symposium leadership program, and be part of the exclusive Lime Connect Fellows Network for life.

Who: Current sophomores/rising juniors with disabilities at 4-year universities/colleges in the United States
How: Click here to learn more about the program and here to go directly to the application Applicants for the 2017 Fellowship program are now closed. Please check back soon for information about 2018 opportunities. 

Are studying a STEM Discipline and/or Business:

NASA is looking to increase the number of blind and disabled students pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) internships. In order to be eligible to apply, students must be accepted as freshmen at an accredited college or university at the time of the internship. NASA has internships for freshmen through doctoral students in STEM fields and must be 18 or older. Apply to NASA internships here

Are interested in psychology, web development, public policy, sales, marketing, and/or public relations:

The National Mental Health Association (MHA), a nonprofit organization addressing all aspects of mental health and mental illness, is seeking undergraduate and graduate students for its internship program. The program is designed to provide a unique opportunity for students to gain real-world work experience relevant to their academic and career goals. Internships are available in various programs and departments. Apply to internships with Mental Health America

Opportunities for individuals with disabilities working in the federal government

USAJOBS is the Federal Government’s official one-stop source for federal jobs and employment information. Information specific to applying for a federal job with a disability

Special opportunities for graduate school

The Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) is a gateway to graduate education at CIC universities. The goal of the program is to increase the number of underrepresented students who pursue graduate study and research careers. SROP helps prepare undergraduates for graduate study through intensive research experiences with faculty mentors and enrichment activities. More information here

Special opportunities for Veterans

Hire Heroes USA provides career placement assistance to all returning service men and women from all branches of the military, and specializes in services for those who are injured or disabled. Information about Hire Heroes here

Employers Committed to Hiring Job Seekers with Disabilities

The following list highlights some of RIT’s employer-partners who have consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to hiring job seekers with disabilities. While this list is not exhaustive, you may find it to be a helpful starting point for developing a targeted list of companies to whom you’d like to apply.

Aetna Google Northrop Grumman
Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) HP Proctor & Gamble
Allstate Insurance IBM Prudential
Apple, Inc. Intel Raytheon
BAE Systems Internal Revenue Service SAIC
Barclays Capital John Deere Social Security Administration
Boehringer-Ingelheim Johnson & Johnson The Dow Chemical Company
Boeing JPMorgan Chase & Co. The Nielsen Company
Booz Allen Hamilton KPMG LLP Time-Warner
Caterpillar Lockheed Martin U.S. Department of Defense
Chevron Marriott U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Cisco Systems Merck U.S. Department of State
CitiGroup MetLife U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Department of Veterans Affairs Microsoft U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Eastman Kodak Company Motorola United Technologies Corporation
Ernst & Young NASA Verizon
FBI National Institutes of Health Walgreens
GEICO National Security Agency Yahoo!
General Electric NIKE  

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