Neurodiverse Students and Students with Different Ability Levels

As a student with a disability, we know you may have specific questions as it relates to your job search such as when to disclose a disability, how to identify inclusive employers, and/or how to request accommodations in a job interview or in the workplace. Our team of career advisors is happy to discuss these topics with you and ensure you have the tools needed to proceed with confidence. Check out the below tools and resources to help you get started.

Disclosing and asking for accommodations

Often when meeting with students the question about when to disclose a disability during the internship/job search arises. There are several factors to consider include whether accommodations will be needed during the interview process or on the job. The following discusses the need for disclosure, timing of disclosure and request for accommodations.

Is there a need to disclose?

Before asking the question, “Do I need to disclose? “gather as much information as possible. Consider the following:


  • Can you speak with an alumni who can comment on the company culture?Does the company value diversity?
  • Does the company value diversity?
  • Does the company value diversity?
  • Is the company collaborating with any disability related recruitment programs?
  • What if any is the company policy on hiring students with disabilities?

Internship/Job Description

  • Is testing required in the interview process? If so, what is the format for testing?
  • Do you know the essential internship/job functions and do the align with your skill set?
  • Will the accommodation strategies you’ve used in (class, student organizations, past internships) be needed on the job?
  • Will you need accommodations for the application process, interview process, or at the worksite?


  • Are you familiar with your rights provided by the ADA?
  • Are you aware of your strengths and functional limitations?
  • Have you previously used accommodations at a work-site?
  • Have you practiced disclosure with a family member, close friend, or career counselor/advisor?
  • When is the right time to disclose during the application process?

Disclosing a disability in a resume or cover letter may feel empowering. However, it’s hard to tell if the employer may have stereotypes about disabilities which prevent you from securing an interview.

Let’s consider the timing of disclosing with the following:

Before the interview

(Pros) Gives employer time to make any accommodations that may be needed during the interview, and time to research proper etiquette or refresh knowledge on ADA.

(Cons) Employer may consider their stereotypes about disabilities and bypass an interview.

During the interview

(Pros) You are able to read employer non-verbal queues and disclose in a brief, positive manner.

(Cons) Employer may feel uneasy and ill prepared to respond with appropriate and legal questions.

After the job offer

(Pros) May have legal recourse if disclosing disability negatively affects the hiring decision. There is time to get accommodations in place before the job starts. Positive relationship has already been established with employer.

(Cons) Employer may feel that you have been dishonest in the application process, which may erode trust.

After the job begins

(Pros) Gives opportunity to build trust and credibility before your disclosure. You may speak with co-workers about disability related issues.

(Cons) May take time to secure requested accommodations. Employer may believe you have not been honest which may negatively affect your relationship.

While on the job

(Pros) Difficulties may not arise (i.e. you may never need to disclose).

(Cons) Employer may have difficulty changing their perceptions of your work performance, feel betrayed or wonder why you waited so long.


(Pros) Disability information is kept private.

(Cons) Not protected from discrimination under the ADA

How to disclose to an employer (during the application process)

Prior to the interview

  • Let the employer know what you need to be successful during the interview process.

During the interview

  • Educate the employer by articulating or demonstrating how you can perform the essential functions of the job. Have resource information available for the employer.
  • Explain the benefits of your disability regarding your personal growth or resilience.
  • Face employer concerns by talking about your compensatory strategies or accommodation solutions.

After accepting the job offer

  • Use general, functional terms to briefly explain the impact of your disability on the job; avoid technical language and medical diagnoses.
  • In a private setting, remind your employer about your right to confidentiality

After the job begins

  • Frame the disclosure around how you work best

Campus Resources:

Accessibility at Illinois


Gies College of Business Access and Multicultural Engagement

Additional Useful Resources:

Internships and Careers at Microsoft for Individuals on the Autism Spectrum

Headquartered near Seattle, Washington, Microsoft has created a comprehensive hiring program, the Autism Hiring Program, which accounts for individuals’ distinctive needs from recruitment, through the application, interview, hiring and onboarding processes.

Job Accommodation Network

This site is a great tool for you and employers to explore to understand possible accommodation options that meet your needs.

Guide for People with Disabilities Seeking Employment

This guide gives an overview of your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Disability Disclosure

This resource gives tips on when to disclose a disability and things to consider.

American Association of People with Disabilities

Great resources including internships, fellowships and the Disability Equality Index to help you identify the best organizations that employ and support people with disabilities.

ETS Guidelines for Students with Disabilities: Resources for students regarding ETS accommodations for test taking (GRE, TOEFL etc.)

Bender Consulting Services: Recruitment and hiring services for professionals living with disabilities

disABLEDperson: A job board for people with "disABILITIES", which lists hundreds of new jobs every day posted by companies who are looking to hire people with disabilities.

Lime: “Lime Connect is leading the way as the premier resource for top talent in the disability space by attracting, preparing and connecting highly accomplished individuals with disabilities for careers with the world’s leading corporations”


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