Job Placement Services And The ADA – What To Know

How can job placement services help individuals?

The American Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) is required for employers with more than 15 employees). All state and local governments must comply with and not discriminate against applicants based on disabilities as well as provide reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities. Let’s dive into how job placement services can work with individuals with disabilities while following ADA guidelines. 

Job placement can encompass the vocational rehabilitation process that is designed to help people with a disability either find employment, maintain their current employment, or return to employment after a period of unemployment. The ADA requires companies to adhere to guidelines that cover all disabilities from functional and psychological disabilities to developmental, cognitive, and emotional disabilities with other impairments or health disabilities also included. 

A variety of healthcare professionals can be involved in the vocational rehabilitation process. It can also include people from a non-medical area like a disability employment advisor or career counselor. The following guideline discusses the process regarding job placement and the ADA.

Disclosure of a Disability

When starting at a new company the ADA recommends informing the potential employer if it is believed that an accommodation to perform the functions of the job being applied for due to a disability is needed. A visible disability is one that can be noticed upon sight and an invisible disability is one that may not be as apparent.

Visible Disabilities

A visible disability will let an employer know what factors they need to consider when hiring a potential new employee. The ADA advises employers that there are factors they need to consider whether an applicant has a disability that can be clearly seen or not. 

Examples of Apparent Disabilities:

  • Conditions requiring mobility devices such as wheelchairs, canes, walkers, crutches
  • Amputations
  • Paralysis

Invisible Disabilities

According to the Invisible Disabilities Association, an invisible disability is generally used to describe someone with a chronic physical struggle. It is important to disclose invisible disabilities as well if they’re believed to interfere with job performance.

Condition and Disabilities That Are Not Apparent:

  • Sensory impairments (low vision or hearing loss)
  • Chronic illness (arthritis, asthma, diabetes)
  • Mental health conditions
  • Learning disabilities
  • Acute illness (cancer)

Stages For Disclosure

When applying for a position within a company there are times when to let companies know whether the condition is chronic and may need to have accommodations made to ensure a comfortable and safe working environment. The stages in the hiring process that can be used to disclose a disability are:

  • Pre-Employment
  • Third Party Involvement
  • Post Job Offer
  • During the Course of Employment

Pre-Employment Disclosure

According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) the law limits disability questioning during the interview process. The law does allow questioning or exams related to the disability only if the employer thinks the medical condition will interfere with the employee’s job performance. There may be workplace barriers that prevent someone from competing for a job such as whether the workplace is accessible for mobility devices, if a service dog is allowed in the workplace, or if a deaf applicant requires an interpreter or adaptive equipment for an interview. 

When there is a visible disability seen during the pre-employment period, an employer may ask limited questions whether the individual can perform the essential functions of the job and, if not, what reasonable accommodation would be required.

Third Party Disclosure

Some companies may choose to use third parties in their accommodation processes that can streamline requests while utilizing professionals who have experience in handling disability accommodations. Some individuals find themselves more comfortable discussing the accommodations they need for their disability with a third party, and not someone they will see regularly in their day-to-day job functions. Working with a vocational rehabilitation service may provide assistance from state rehabilitation services, non-profit human service organizations or agencies, or workers compensation and/or long-term disability vocational services.

Post Job Offer

Once an offer has been extended, some experts recommend to disclose a potential accommodation needed for employment. If the individual believes they do need an accommodation to be successful in their role, it’s important to let the employer know before job performance is affected. It is important to note that up until the job offer, an employer can’t request any disability-related information or medical information. Once the job offer is made, an employer can require the applicant to undergo a medical evaluation or ask disability related questions as long as it is done for all employees. Any information revealed after the job is offered can’t be used to rescind the offer unless it can be shown that the individual would be unable to perform the essential functions of the job (with or without accommodation), or would pose a direct threat to themselves or others.

During the Course of Employment

It is up to the individual when to disclose their disability but is recommended to discuss needs before the position begins to help with workplace morale as well as for the employee to have the best job performance in their position possible while increasing the success for the employer and company as well. If an employee finds themselves becoming disabled during their employment it is recommended to consider requesting accommodations. Especially if their work performance suggests an accommodation is needed (even if not requested). The employee should discuss this with their HR department or the company’s recommended department.

How to Disclose

Once a job offer has been extended and accepted, it’s essential that you discuss and provide information regarding your disability as an employer has the right to know if an employee needs assistance to perform the job they were hired for. It is recommended that the employee make the request in “plain English”, as well as putting the request in writing, and discussing with the appropriate people within the company.

What to Disclose

Disclosing the disability to the correct departments is imperative to help ensure that the needs that are required to be successful in the role are met by the employer and to keep open communication between the employer and employee for a safe and inclusive workplace. The employee is encouraged to disclose the nature of their disability, limitations that may result from said disability, how their disability affects their work performance, and lastly what potential accommodations they may need for their disability.

Reasonable Accommodation

According to the US Department of Labor, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations in the application process. These accommodations help to assist an individual with a disability in their ability to perform their job and so an employee can experience equal job privileges and benefits of employment as an individual without a disability. It is also suggested that the employer and the individual with a disability engage in an informal process to clarify what the individual needs and identify the appropriate reasonable accommodation. Companies are encouraged to have several resources to help employers and individuals with disabilities to explore possible accommodations.


For an individual getting into the workforce with a disability, a vocational assessment or job placement service can help them to be prepared as well as know their rights according to the ADA. When speaking to a vocational rehabilitation expert regarding a return to work, it’s helpful to provide the vocational rehabilitation expert all necessary information such as any cognitive deficits, details about any injuries. A current resume, as well as all educational records and certificates for training, employment history, reports from doctors and other healthcare professionals, hospital records, and any other pertinent information might also be needed to conduct the assessment accurately. 

Occupational Resource Network has been a provider of vocational rehabilitation, evaluations, and assessments to help with job placements since 1995. Our licensed and certified counselors are happy to answer any questions and discuss the details of your case today!

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