Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Self Identification Becomes the Norm

“Employees with disabilities may be the largest ‘diversity’ segment of the workforce—20 percent of the U.S population has a disability and an estimated 20 percent of U.S. workers will develop a disability that lasts a year or more during their careers. Yet few will identify themselves as such in the workplace, often because they fear being stigmatized or discriminated against,” wrote the Conference Board in its 2015 report Do Ask, Do Tell. Since then, Federal agencies and their private contractors must collect information to satisfy compliance requirements mandating affirmative action in disability hiring, but more so to “increase hiring and retention of qualified individuals with disabilities to capitalize on their unique skillset, talents, experiences and perspectives, and Ensure they are creating and sustaining diverse and inclusive workplaces, according to EARN guidance, which also offers employers strategies

on encouraging self-identification. In a separate report, EARN clarifies the difference between self-identification and self-disclosure: the term “self-identification” means voluntarily and confidentially
providing information about disability status that is used for statistical purposes only (i.e., data collection and reporting purposes) vs. “self-disclosure” [which] means sharing information about one’s disability in any context other than through a formal self-identification program.”

Following the lead of companies like Eli Lilly and Merck, Google has developed a voluntary initiative called Self-ID in which 62 percent of Googlers participated in 2020. Following data collection on self-identifying employees with a disability, Google set company-wide goals focused on improving product accessibility and disability inclusion. Read their Diversity Report here.

A number of other worthwhile sources address the issues of disclosure and self-identification. The Job Accommodation Network’s site discusses disclosure pre- and post-employment offer. covers a number of topics for job seekers and employers; note, however, that to find information on visual impairment and the job search, you’ll need to go directly to Career Connect. To find the Federal Voluntary Self-Identification of Disability Form, PDF only in English plus 11 other languages, navigate to this page at