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This question is UK-specific.

I have a friend who is disabled looking for work. Their disabilities do not prevent them from performing the tasks expected in the jobs they are applying for, but do make it so that certain accommodations would greatly reduce the levels of stress they experience.

How and when should this be communicated to a potential employer?

Also: what resources are there for discovering which accommodations are reasonable to ask for?

EDIT: None of the two current answers actually answer the question of how and when to communicate disabilities or requests for reasonable accommodations.

  • Seems to me that bizzehdee's answer at least says when to communicate disabilities: "after you get an offer", with the implication being "soon after". – Philip Kendall Jan 5 '17 at 16:40
  • Should we stop calling people disabled. They have enabled in different ways - like all of us. – Ed Heal Jan 5 '17 at 21:50
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I can't answer specifically for the UK, but I can tell you what's worked for me: ask when you reach a decision point where you need to know the answer.

First, during the interview process, proceed as if it will work out and everybody's being reasonable. You can ask about this later, so why risk interviewers thinking "oh dear, this one's going to be too much work" or the like?

If your acceptance of the offer depends on the accommodation being made (you won't work there if they won't do this), ask as soon as is practical after you receive the offer. This is the same point in the process where you would bring up that two-week vacation you've already booked, or your need to leave early on Fridays because of Shabbat, or your questions about working from home occasionally because you're the primary caregiver for your elderly parents, or whatever. They already want you at this point; they'll be more open to discussing things than they would have been earlier.

If your acceptance does not depend on the accommodation (but having it would sure make things easier for you), then wait until you start. Especially if there are things that you can do to mitigate too, they'll see you doing what you can and (in my experience) be more inclined to do what they can. You'll have to get by without it for a bit longer because they won't have prepared, of course.

Here's an example of how that last approach went with my current position: I have some vision problems, which among things make me more susceptible than normal to problems caused by glare and lighting. I also tune my software environment in various ways (larger fonts, color settings, that sort of thing). On my first day I asked the people sitting near me if we could either close the blinds or rotate my desk to get glare off my monitor, which was no problem. A few days later my manager (who is not local) visited, and as we sat together at my computer he said "you could use a larger monitor, couldn't you?". I said yes that would help, and he promptly got the approvals to order me one. Had that not happened I would have waited a few weeks and then brought it up myself. A few weeks is long enough to start demonstrating value and get past all the "new setup" stuff.

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If there are two candidates that are equally qualified, candidate A has a disability that requires the employer to make changes to their office that cost the business money, and candidate B does not. Candidate B has just been employed, candidate A has not.

Yes it is illegal, but it does happen and have fun proving that is why they chose B as they would never admit it.

So, only mention this after you get an offer for 2 reasons.

  1. the above.

  2. mentioning this before receiving an offer implies that you are expecting an offer and are attempting to make their decision for them.

You are also assuming they dont already have the provisions in place, and have no plans to do this without you mentioning it.

Nothing good can come from mentioning it before you sign on the dotted line.

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    I don't understand reason #2. People discuss all kinds of things that are only relevant if an offer is made and accepted -- what would the benefits package be, what would I be working on, would I need to get a security clearance, is flex-time possible, etc. I agree that after the offer is made is the best time, but not for that reason. – Monica Cellio Jan 5 '17 at 17:11
  • Asking about salary, benefits, projects, those are already things that happen/are happening within the business anyway, otherwise you wouldnt be there for an interview. Mentioning making changes to the building... That is not something employers just do from day to day, and makes the assumptions i already mentioned – bizzehdee Jan 6 '17 at 10:58
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The gov.uk website should answer your questions. From the linked page:

Employers must make reasonable adjustments to make sure disabled workers (including contract workers, trainees, apprentices and business partners) aren’t seriously disadvantaged when doing their jobs.

This includes:

  • making reasonable adjustments during the recruitment process
  • doing things another way - eg allowing someone with social anxiety disorder to have their own desk instead of hot-desking
  • making physical changes - eg installing a ramp for a wheelchair user or an > > - audio-visual fire alarm for a deaf person
  • letting a disabled person work somewhere else - eg on the ground floor for a wheelchair user
  • changing their equipment - eg providing a special keyboard if they have arthritis
  • allowing employees who become disabled to make a phased return to work - eg working flexible hours or part-time
  • offering employees training opportunities, recreation and refreshment facilities

They also have a link on that page where you can make further enquiries.

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    Thank's for the reply, I have read the information on the gov.uk site. My question was specifically about how to communicate disabilities and required accommodations to a potential employer; how and when should this be done, to minimise the possibility of discrimination? Before or after receiving an offer? Requested of line manager or interviewer? That's the kind of info I was looking for. We know what employers are required by law to provide, the question is about how to get it. – Richard Jun 12 '16 at 17:14

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