Diverse Student Identities

Looking for career-related events? Check out Accelerate!

Accelerate is a series of career-related events hosted by Career Exploration & Student Employment and OVPDEMA (Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs). These events focus on exploring your future direction and career ideas, finding ways to build experience, and polish your professional skills to fast track you towards career success.

Bonus: you will meet other IU students and alumni along the way!

Learn more about Accelerate events

Disclosure & requesting accommodations

Description of the video:

Hi everyone welcome to the 10th annual ability summit and thank you for joining us over in the career corner today we are going to have a conversation with Renee Forsythe from Lyme connect on disclosure and accommodations my name is Lisa Mayberry I'm a program manager at Microsoft I work with inclusive hiring programs for people with disabilities and this is a topic for me that it's very close to home as well I'm working with candidates every day who need accommodations to go through interviews but then are also onboarding and navigating the benefits process at Microsoft as well Renee is going to share some tips on whether when and how to disclose and these are really great tips that will apply across your job search at any company not just Microsoft so we hope that you get a lot from this presentation it's going to be about 20 minutes and then afterwards we will have some time for question and answer as well after that I will be moderating so with that I'm going to go ahead and turn it over to Renee to kick this up thanks Lisa we are so happy to join Microsoft for the ability summit and appreciate the partnership between lime connect and Microsoft as together we work towards our mission of rebranding disability to achievement thank you all for joining us for this discussion on disclosure and accommodations and how to set yourself up for success during the recruiting process when onboarding into a new role or at any time during your employment today we will identify ways that you can best communicate your needs as a person with a disability while also highlighting the unique strengths that you bring to your team first it's important to take a look at the disability landscape and recognize that as a person with a disability in the workplace you are not alone one in four North Americans have a disability and in the workforce research shows that 30 percent of white collar workers have a disability this number may be surprising to you because many people don't talk about their disabilities in fact only 3 percent of them please actually self-identify as having a disability so why is there such a disparity between these two numbers one reason is that the majority of disabilities are non visible or not evident to others when you first meet them so if you're a person whose disability is not evident you have to make an active choice whether to disclose your disability or not even if you have a visible disability you will have to make choices about when to disclose your disability and if you choose to request an accommodation how to make that request at Lyme connect when we coach members about the decision process around disclosing your disability we encourage people to consider whether when and how to disclose to set yourself up for success just closing your disability may not be necessary or appropriate in every situation but it is important to note that your employer's want to help you to be successful and to give you what you need to thrive in your role and in their companies so when you're deciding whether or not to disclose your disability you may have some concerns about if disclosure is right for you some of the concerns that are common that we hear from people with disabilities include the belief that people will judge them once they reveal that they have a disability before they get to know them or know what they're capable of or a fear or uncertainty about how people will react when they share the information that they are a person with a disability they also have concerns about disclosing and how it will impact their career including the likelihood that they may not be selected as the applicant of choice or that they might not get the key assignment that they need to move their career forward others just have a concern about not knowing how to have the conversation and preparing for the conversation is part of what we will talk about today because our experience has shown that people have had great success when disclosing and requesting an accommodation some of the success stories we hear include receiving the technology that they need to be successful and work more efficiently in their role others have received an adjusted work schedule which helps them to do their most productive work and others have been able to share the communication techniques that work best for them so that they can understand directions more effectively and be more efficient in their work for others it's opened up a dialogue with their managers where they can share symptoms or have a key code word to use when they're having a bad day and even others received flexible schedule or extra support when they really needed it to allow them to flex their work schedule to be able to produce their best work and overall just a general empathy from their managers when they were open and discussed what they needed but as I mentioned determining whether to disclose will be a decision at different touch points with different potential or current employers the keys to disclosing when and in a way that allows you to present your best self the decision process starts as early as during the application process and throughout the recruiting process or perhaps it might take place after the offer so let's just take a moment to look through these different touch points first during the application process you may be asked early on in filling out an application whether you identify as a person with a disability it's important to note that this is considered self ID and it's information that's generally used for data collection and it's not used to grant an accommodation so if you need an accommodation during the recruiting process you need to be sure to identify that further on with a recruiter prior to the interview process this may take the form of needing extra time if you're doing case studies or a coding test or perhaps you would prefer a Skype interview versus a phone interview in other examples you may want to share it during the interview process to highlight a skill or specific accomplishment or potentially to address an uncomfortable situation that might take place during the interview a very common time to request an accommodation is after the interview when you have the job offer in hand before you start the job so that you have all the tools in place that you need to hit the ground running realize that you can also request an accommodation at any time during employment if your needs change it is really important not to wait until you are struggling in your role or you're receiving negative feedback about your performance before you ask for the accommodation you want to ask for what you need so that you can always perform at your best when you have identified the best time to disclose or times to disclose because you will likely need to do it more than once in your lifetime we now come to how you can do it so that you are effectively communicating all that you need to help you bring your full strengths and skills to every professional interaction let's review four steps that you can take as you approach how to disclose your disability and they include establishing the reason for the conversation based on your needs identifying the best person for the conversation simplifying your disability and selecting a technique that works for you in terms of communication and then ultimately requesting the accommodation and helping come up with solutions that you know work for you so first let's talk about the reason for the conversation you'll need to identify are you going into this requesting an accommodation do you have a disability related need that you need met are you simply seeking to further your relationships with your team members with your manager to maybe alleviate some awkwardness about how to interact related to your specific disability perhaps you just want to break commonly held stereotypes around your disability and what people with your disability are or not capable of or perhaps you want to talk about in terms of identifying your unique strengths that you bring to the table that may have been developed as a result of living with your disability the next step is to identify the best person for the conversation research shows that most people commonly disclose to their manager once they are an employee but prior to that if you're in the recruiting process you may need to disclose to a recruiter or someone in the HR department to get your disability related needs met then you want to determine what technique or approach you're most comfortable with and communicating the details about your disability so let's review some common approaches that we recommend that seem to work for our network members first is talking about simplifying the science around your disability so you may have lived with your disability for much of your life and have a lot of medical information and background on your disability that's not necessarily relevant or necessary for this discussion so you can explain the way your unique brain works for example or how your spine functions or perhaps you want to show them the technology that you use as a support tool that can be really helpful and helping understand what your disability is and how it impacts you another tool that we have used and that we recommend is connecting with people through the metaphor identifying a metaphor that allows people to connect to and understand your disability so here's a few examples someone who lives with disability used the metaphor of managing my disabilities like sailing it may look like smooth sailing from the outside but I'm constantly adjusting the sails to ensure that I stay on course someone who lives with low vision described it as my sight is like if you put both thumbs in front of your eyes and try to see around them another individual with hearing loss describes it as it's like being at a rock concert where you can hear the voices but you can't make out the words and another individual who's dyslexic talks about trying to read a story but only seeing every other word so those are metaphors that are specific to those individuals and that really worked for them but you seek to find a metaphor that really resonated with you and your disability and helps describe it in a way that others can relate and always remember that while it may be important for you to share some of the limitations that you experience as a result of living with this disability it's also important to highlight the incredibly valuable strengths that you have developed because of a life with your disability our network members have shared with us some of the strengths that they have developed as people with disabilities and I think we can all agree that the strengths that any employer would like to have so listed here we have some of the top strengths that were identified such as being a problem solver for people who've lived with disability they've often had to problem-solve how to make the world accessible for themselves for most of their lives in many cases they're a strategic thinker because they may have had to learn differently some cases they are incredibly organized because they always have to get their work done ahead of time in anticipation that they might not be able to to deliver and if there's a flare-up of course determination and resilience are key strengths of many people who live with disabilities and then we've seen others who've been able to take on leadership roles in really identifying ways to help others understand the disability space I also want to share some of the specialized skills that you've developed these are also skills that we've heard from our network members that they've developed as a result of living with very specific disabilities so in some cases we've had people talk about how they are really excellent at seeing patterns and developing systems that others cannot see and that came as a result of living with their disability others have an innate curiosity and a creativity for approaching life or learning due to living and learning with their disability in the way that they do others have talked about heightened communication and listening abilities as a result of living with certain disabilities and of course technology is a key factor in helping people accommodate for their disability so that knowledge and that experience is critical to people and to companies to bring that perspective so finally once you identify these four steps you really really want to practice your disclosure conversation the more you practice the more you'll feel comfortable going into that setting so what's important is that you feel comfortable with what you're conveying and that it feels like more of a natural conversation and remember that there are many possible accommodations out there and we always when we train our corporate partners on the employer side we recommend that they speak with the employee about what is the best accommodation for them and what works for them because you really know what works best for you so keep in mind in requesting accommodation that 59% of accommodations cost nothing to provide and most accommodations tend to cost less than $500 so it's really not generally a hardship for employers to provide these accommodations so just to highlight a few accommodations that we have heard of that work for individuals within our network here's a few to take a look at some individuals use a smart pen which allows them to take notes and be more attentive in offices and not miss any information other individuals have used darkened rooms as a way to accommodate for their own low vision or perhaps to deal with chronic migraines we've had other individuals who find that captioned presentations is really critical in helping them be a full participant in any meeting and also captioning through different interview settings can be helpful if you're doing virtual interview settings others look for flexible schedules or an adjusted schedule can be very helpful for example if you feel extreme drowsiness perhaps due the medication in the morning just adjusting your schedule by a few hours can help be more productive and that's something that your company or your managers might be able to provide for you another simple accommodation is headphones - when we're all back in the office to be able to prevent distraction and really allow you to focus and then here we have another self accommodation from our good friend dr. Steven Shore who is also an autism expert in an autistic individual and he considers his hat in accommodation because of the often the fluorescent lights really bother him so he self accommodates with a hat and then of course I will encourage you all to take all that you learned through this ability summit and apply it to your future disclosure conversations we know that technology can really be a game changer for people with disabilities and I encourage you to explore all the great tools that Microsoft has to offer and finally at Lund connect the entire team looks to be a great resource for people with disability so we would encourage you to join our network and we look forward to continuing to work with Microsoft to create an accessible world for all Thank You Rene that was excellent definitely it went through a lot of things for me that our top of mind right now especially as you know the way that we work and collaborate has been completely changed over the last few months it's important to think through how to have these conversations and be mindful of the way that we're working now and how to best accommodate either our team members or ourselves when we think about what we need so we will go ahead and transition to Q&A so if there's anything that came up for you please feel free to submit that to us all right so question answer time now thanks for joining us Renee we also have Alyssa from Lyme connect on the line to help with some of the questions and I would love for her to introduce herself as well so we get to know her a little bit better before we dive in hi everyone my name is ELISA Brower Severini and I'm the director of engagement with mime connect that works very closely with our great corporate partners like Microsoft and I also manage our scholarship programs our fellowship applications and I'm so excited to join the conversation today thanks Alysa we are really excited to dive into some of the questions that were submitted some of them were covered in the presentation a little bit so we'll try not to be too / Pettit --iv but it does help to have some concrete examples of you know what we're talking about when we're asking for accommodations either as Canada or an intern or an existing employee we have some information that we can tell you specific to Microsoft but then our line connect representatives can also help with information that applies more broadly to other companies as well so the first one I will turn over to Rene what types of accommodations can I ask for when interviewing and virtually which I know is a very timely question right now yeah that is really timely so thanks for that question and I think many many interviews will start to be moving to a more virtual setting so it's important to think about what you might need in that setting and and what what self accommodation you can provide and what you might need to ask for from your potential employer the person you're interviewing with so first it can be helpful to know what the structure of the interview it's like if it's a if it's going to be a phone interview if it's going to use something like Microsoft teams if it's going to be a video interview all of those things can be helpful to to know about in advance also to understand how long the interview might be and how many people you might be meeting with if there's any kind of case study or coding challenge involved those are all things that are important find out about ahead of time and then depending on your disability knowing those things will will indicate what type of accommodation you might need to ask for so some things that you can think about I think I think one important thing now with this virtual setting is to see if you can test the platform in advance make sure that it works with whatever technological accommodations you might have in place if it's a screen reader for example you want to test that it's compatible with that if it's perhaps you might want to use the captioning function and if the platform doesn't offer a captioning function you may want to see if there's an alternative option if captions or something that you use this an accommodation you also want to know if you might need extra time so that's where understanding what the structure of the interview to where that comes into play because if it is a coding challenge for example or a case study you might extra time might be something that you've used in in your university or in your personal life so that might be something you'd want to request and get established ahead of time so those are a few of the things I think one key is to make sure you're communicating with in in the interview setting it would really be with the recruiter that you're working with a little bit about what your disability is and what you anticipate you might need in that setting and do it in enough advanced notice that they can put those accommodations in place so those are some very general things maybe Lisa if you have some examples of what Microsoft might provide in terms of accommodations thank you yeah and thank you for sharing out those other specific examples I think that they are really helpful for people to contextualise you know what they can ask for and what they should feel empowered to ask for I think with the virtual interviews we open up so much capability to be a lot more flexible than we have in the past we're not thinking about traveling constraints or budget concerns around how long were able to meet with someone I'm so one that came to mind that is definitely an option at Microsoft but then is something that you should for sure feel empowered to ask for other companies as well is to have interview spread out over multiple days I know in the past historically the Microsoft interview and a lot of other big tech companies to us felt like a marathon like maybe five or six in one day back-to-back and whether or not you need extra time for an interview or maybe a 30-minute break in between each interview or even you know multiple interview spread out over multiple days that's something that is reasonable to ask for and it's something that may not always be built into the schedule and may not have been built into the schedule previously because of travel constraints but it's something that you should feel like you can ask for again you know this open line of communication that you have with your recruiter you know yourself well and you know what you need to feel successful so something something simple such as informing the interviewer maybe that you would like to use video instead of just a phone call if that's helpful for you or if you are a lip-reader and you need to make sure that the person you're interviewing with isn't backlit and you can clearly see their face that's another thing that you could ask for but hopefully you feel empowered and you're connected to someone within the HR function wherever you're interviewing so that you can have that open dialogue and let them know what you prefer and and what is going to help you be the most successful and comfortable in your interview environment so we have another question what examples of accommodations can Microsoft share for both candidates interns and employees I can go ahead and get into that a little bit we've talked a lot about candidates and kind of the examples of what is common for people to ask for in the interview setting and I will say that you know everything that Rene mentioned people should feel free to ask for it Microsoft specifically I'll also say that every job description on our global career site contains a link to an accommodation request form so that really is there for you to disclose as much or as little as you like and ask us for what you need to help make your experience more inclusive and more accessible so if you're having trouble input inputting information in your application from your resume for example you should tell us or if you're interested in using a different coding platform like Rene mentioned that is more accessible for you for your interviews that's where you can let us know or if you're you know looking at that site and it's just not working for you and it's not feeling as accessible as you want it to be you can let us know there that you're having issues too for interns we are in completely new territory this year with virtual internships and so anytime there's really rapid change there's also a lot of room for growth so if there are any intern logged in right now to this call we do want to know if you're having any access issues so much of what we've done in the past for interns is completely different this year and we know that our intern program is working really hard to make sure that everything is accessible and that they're being super proactive about the activities they're scheduling and the different things that they're doing for the intern program but we also know that mistakes happen and that things fall through so if you're experiencing any issues we want to know about it as soon as possible and you can submit that information into D careers at Microsoft comm or go through that accessibility form on the your sight or you can interface directly with your recruiter at Microsoft to let them know that you're having issues whatever you feel most comfortable with and then as far as on the job accommodations go our interns at Microsoft are eligible for all of the same support as our full-time employees we have a dedicated benefits team that helps field those requests so if you need something to help do your job more effectively you can reach out to benefits at Microsoft comm and they'll help field your request either if it needs to go directly to your manager they'll help you with that kind of a conversation or if you need some technology if there's something else going on they'll they'll help you with that as well and then some examples for that could be as Rene mentioned maybe captioning services for those larger meetings if that helps you or you could also ask for meeting notes or a record of specific action items for from one-on-ones that you have or you know the use of specific adaptive technology if that's what you need and the benefits team can help you navigate some of that if you need help with that and then for our internal employees same information really applies there you should feel empowered to join those employee affinity groups or our employee resource groups to learn from your peers and kind of gather information from people who have already done a lot of the things that you probably are trying to do that's a really great resource for information but then also the benefits team will will help with more specific requests and then you have another question Lisa can I just jump in for a minute sure absolutely okay I just wanted to add a few general things general accommodations now in this new virtual environment which everybody is experiencing that and things that we're hearing and people are requesting because we are so much time we're spending so much of our time now in front of a screen and that can be really exhausting it can lead to hearing fatigue it can list lead to you know migraines and and eyestrain some other things that people are asking for I'm requesting or just self accommodating is some adjusted schedules for some people it might be that they need to start a little bit later and then work a little bit later blocks of time that might be screen free that maybe they're available by phone or some meetings are just by phone to give everyone a little break from the screen or to be able to walk away and really relax all of those muscles that are being strained you already mentioned a couple of the other ones recordings of meetings is it's really being helpful and then I just encourage people especially as your interns are starting to to really set themselves up and establish a good work environment that's that works well for themselves so making sure they're taking breaks but also setting up their workspace so that they have a comfortable setting for themselves and another thing can just be trying to establish some boundaries when we work in the same place where we live it can be hard to to end your work Jay so thinking about that is important for your mental health as well so just like to add those few things Thank You Renee those are really important considerations and I'm glad that you brought them up and I think that they apply for so many different types of people and so many different disability segments to be mindful of and especially right now with all the stress that we're all under I'm wondering as well if Alissa has anything or any additional perspective to add on this question sure yeah I just wanted to echo renamed last point because I had requested this just recently for ergonomic ly having a supportive workspace you may as you may be adjusting to your new workspace and not really understanding what your work schedule is quite yet you start working on our you may not understand the type of strain you may have on your on your neck on any parts of your body depending on the workspace that you've created so just understanding the different organ AMA changes that you can make whether that's elevating your pc or laptop having a remote keyboard and mouse can make a world of difference and also as someone who has a mental health condition sunlight is incredibly important to me so even if it's just being able to sit near a window taking a walk outside you may not be things that you'll need for an interview but kind of thinking ahead when you're in the workplace and starting a regular routine those are personally things that have helped me thanks for sharing that ELISA I am 100% there with you and also with Renee and thinking that it is really nice also to just turn that video off and get outside sometimes for meetings and walk around and relieve some of that stress and get some exposure and some some sunlight we have another question here how do I identify the best person to whom I should disclose or ask for an accommodation and from a Microsoft perspective you know the answer to this question can vary when it comes to needing a specific accommodation I've already a little bit touched on the benefits team being the best resource to help deliver on that but if you're finding that it's something interpersonal that would help for one of your teammates or one of your colleague colleagues or your direct manager to know about you in order to understand the way that you work it's absolutely also appropriate to disclose directly to them if it's not something like a scheduling concern or it's not something like meeting an interpreter which which would be like a benefits team type of a question those are probably the best places to start but if you're not comfortable disclosing and you just want to learn more about the community and more about the other people who have whatever disability you may have as well and how they function in the work environment I always point people back to our employee resource groups to start there so that you can find some camaraderie and some common ground with other people and understand maybe a little bit about what their experiences were like when they disclosed what kind of positive or negative experiences they had and kind of best practice sharing within the group within the specific company culture that you're a part of it can be helpful to start there and that can also help alleviate some anxiety or stress around the decision but we'd love to hear more from our lime connect partners - on this one sure I'll I'll speak first and then ELISA if you have any other thoughts you can add them in I think I would echo exactly what Lisa said for other companies as well and I think it really you may have a benefits person that handles accommodations and I think if you're in the workplace and you are working within a team and you have a manager it can be really important to open those lines of communication with your manager in some cases you saw some of the accommodations we talked about both in in the video in during the presentation and through the QA and a lot of those things managers can can decide on their own so those are things that you might want to really open up that dialogue with your manager and it can help them understand how you can be more productive in your role which is something a manager really wants to be able to help you do that's important to your effectiveness on the team so trying to live in the manager if you feel comfortable with that and opening those lines of communication can be really really valuable and then the manager may not know necessarily right now right off the bat what they need to do or what types of accommodations are available so they may need to go Loup other people in to find out what is available but if you're still exploring it you have some concerns as Lisa said I think a orgies are a great way to to kind of test it out get a sense of what other people have have requested what they've been granted how that conversation went just to really have sort of a sounding board for for your own disclosure conversation can be really important and then of course if you're in the interviewing stage you'll want to find the recruiter that you're working with most directly with you try and work through what accommodations you would need ELISA did I miss anything is there anything you want to add yeah I would just add if even you're uncomfortable reaching out to someone within the company that you may be working for consider joining the lime Network and we have a large community over 17,000 members of from the United States and Canada who can also be a peer resource for you for individuals who may have had similar interviews maybe in some levels that you are interviewing for or just different experiences and you want kind of that outside perspective that is also available to you although like Rene and Lisa said yardies are a perfect resource because they are again peers of yours as well but they also have to know how of that specific company's benefits procedures and what things have worked for them and I would also just say I know Rene had mentioned this in the presentation is just consider when is the most comfortable time for you to do so and when it's going to make you successful because if an accommodation can help you thrive in your role it's really important to have that to have that tool to help you be your best self so just think along in the process while you're making that decision of whether you are going to disclose but that can be something that's incredibly helpful for your success in your position Thank You Alyssa we are coming up on time for our session today and I just wanted to say thank you so much both to Renee and Alyssa from 1connect for joining us and really leading this discussion on disclosure and accommodations it's really relevant especially right now when we're all kind of figuring out a new way of work to be really transparent with ourselves and what our limits are and what we need in order to feel supported either in the interview stage or through an internship or through employment I can't emphasize that enough we as employers want our employees and our colleagues and our managers to feel like they have everything that they need to do the jobs that they've been hired to do and so many of these things like Renee mentioned are simple and are easy to deliver on and make everyone work and collaborate better so I'm so glad that we have the opportunity to have the discussion today and hope that you enjoyed it and once the recording is available you'll share it so that we can all work towards making our work environments more inclusive and more accessible for people with disabilities so I just want to say thank you and goodbye thank you