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Background: I am blind.

My country, the Philippines, does not have laws regarding employment of humans with physical challenges. I have been applying for a software developer position for months now, and except for one company, the following usually happens after submitting my resume.

  • I would get an email inviting me for a technical interview. I would then reply asking if I can use my laptop for any programming tasks because it has a screen reading software that allows me to code. I got no more reply from this company even after many followup emails.
  • On another company, I would get a phone interview asking for my qualifications and things regarding what I wrote in my resume. They also invited me for a technical interview. Before the conversation ends, I let them know that I am blind and would it be ok for me to use a screen reader while working if ever I am hired. By this point the conversation turned to my disability and how it is possible that I can program. Finally, the interviewer asked me to wait for another call regarding the status of the interview. I never heard from them again.

I believe I have made a mistake (in both cases) by immediately telling them about my disability. This is due to a friend's advice who said that by informing companies immediately about my disability while also emphasizing my technical abilities, I will quickly find out if they will have problems accepting people like me. Now I realised too many companies in my country are not giving me a chance. They could have many reasons, of course. But I suspect the fact that I am blind overshadowed any technical achievements I have made. I might code differently, or solve problems differently, but I can still produce results. Note that they have invited me for interviews before disappearing.

Now, I plan to avoid any mentions of my disability to any company interactions until the actual interview. That way I would have shown them my abilities before outright rejecting me.

My question is: Could this approach cause problems? Could this be construed as rude in the eyes of the interviewer? I have not thought of any possible problems that might occur, but I believe it would be better to prevent something that I might regret later.

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In the US, unless you need accommodations for the interview itself, you don't mention the disability up front. You want them to consider you the best choice and be a bit invested in getting you, before they know accommodations will be needed. And this is in a country that DOES have laws against discrimination.

So yes, I think you should try to get as far as you can in the interview process before disclosing that. If they first see you as a competent programmer that could be an asset to their company, they are more likely to work with you.

Once you get a job offer, in the US, then you mention the need for accommodations. With no laws protecting you, you might want to wait until you have a signed contract, or whatever the standards are, so they are less likely to back out.

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As a general rule I think being upfront about something like that is important. If your being blind is going to be a deal breaker for the company then to proceed further in the interview process would be a waste of everyone's time - yours and theirs. I mean, they're going to find out, eventually, anyway, when they bring you in for a face to face.

I think it's unfortunate that it would be a deal breaker (and indeed, in the United States, it would be illegal, I believe, due to the Americans with Disabilities Act) but your experiences seem to indicate that it none-the-less is.

Maybe look for remote work / work from home opportunities instead? I understand that those may not be as easy to find but given that in-person jobs are yielding the results that you're seeing maybe it's the best bet.

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