The 411 on Disability Disclosure: A Workbook for Families, Educators, Youth Service Professionals, and Adult Allies Who Care About Youth with Disabilities

Cover Art: The 411 on Disability Disclosure: A Workbook for Families, Educators, Youth Service Professionals, and Adult Allies Who Care About Youth with DisabilitiesIntroduction

When caring adults open this workbook, they take an important step toward supporting a young person to determine whether he or she should disclose his or her disability. You made a decision to learn about disability disclosure and what it can mean for a young person with a disability in your life.

Disclosure is a very personal decision, and takes thought and practice.

Because disclosure is intentionally releasing personal and often highly sensitive information about oneself to others for a specific purpose, it is important for the individual to carefully consider what information he or she needs to share with whom and for what purposes. It is not essential that a person with a disability divulge all personal information about his or her disability. Some information is best kept private. Therefore, the individual needs to determine what information to share in order to best communicate how his or her disability affects his or her capacity in certain situations, and what he or she will need in order to access, participate in, and excel in the situation whether it be work, education, or community life. The person with a disability must decide what and how much of sensitive information is necessary to reveal in order to obtain the needed accommodations.

Cover Art: The 411 on Disability Disclosure for Youth with DisabilitiesThis adult-focused workbook is a companion publication to The 411 on Disability Disclosure: A Workbook for Youth with Disabilities (pictured to the right). The workbook for youth is intended for young people to use on their own or with a group of peers. You may find it useful to complete this workbook for adults at the same time that the young person you are supporting completes similar activities in the guide written for youth. The workbook for youth is available at

This workbook written for adults supporting youth with disabilities introduces numerous examples of young people struggling with the question of “to disclose” or “not to disclose.” If you think that the disclosure discussion is one worth having with a young man or young woman, we believe this workbook offers information and practice opportunities you can use to learn how to support him or her in disclosing most effectively.

Adults in the lives of young people with both visible disabilities and those with disabilities that are not apparent to others can benefit from using this workbook. This workbook helps caring adults make informed decisions about teaching a young man or woman about his or her rights and responsibilities in disclosing his or her disability, a decision that will affect the young person’s educational, employment, and social life. This workbook will help teach how to support a young person with a disability as he or she takes steps in becoming more independent and self-sufficient. In fact, making the personal decision to disclose a disability can make the young person more confident in himself or herself and the choices he or she makes.

This workbook is for you if:

  • You want to understand the experiences of a young person with a disability;
  • You want to understand how his or her disability influences the choices he or she makes;
  • You want to help a young person explain his or her disability better to others;
  • You are deciding how to advise a young person what and how to disclose; and
  • You feel it would be beneficial for a young person to disclose his or her disability but feel unprepared or uncomfortable guiding him or her through this challenging process.

The ultimate goal of this workbook is to help caring adults help the young man or woman in their lives make informed choices about disclosing disabilities. Remember, this decision is the young person’s choice to make, and may vary based on the particular person, situation or setting, and need for accommodations. Trust the young person’s instincts and make sure he or she has what he or she needs to make an informed choice!

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