Disability Self-Identification Frequently Asked Questions

A resource for questions on disability self-identification through employee self-service.

The process of self-identification can be confusing and often elicits questions. Below are some of the frequently asked questions regarding the self-identification process.

Table of Contents

1. What is Self-Identification?

Self-identification is a voluntary and confidential reporting of one’s disability status. In the past this was accomplished through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator within your department. Employees can now self-identify as a person with a disability through the Employee Self-Service.

2. How do you define disability?

A disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment, which substantially limits one or more major life activities. Major life activities include but is not limited to functions such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

3. If I have a disability am I required to self-identify?

No, self-identification is always voluntary. Self-identification is for affirmative action purposes. Self-identification is also useful to the Commonwealth in developing a better understanding of the composition of the workforce. The Commonwealth, as an employer, is interested in ensuring that our workforce is reflective of the population of the state and obtaining information through voluntary self-identification will help further that goal.

4. What is the difference between self-identification and self-disclosure?

Self-identification and self-disclosure are separate and distinct. Self-identification is the process of completing and submitting the self-identification form through a confidential process to an ADA Coordinator. Self-disclosure is the written or verbal, voluntary disclosure of a disability by an employee to others in the workplace. Self-disclosure may occur formally with a manager or ADA Coordinator in order to request an accommodation or informally, at the desire of the employee. The employee may voluntarily share the fact that they have a disability for many reasons including but not limited to:

  • To receive an accommodation to improve the employee’s ability to remain productive or increase productivity in his or her work environment regarding the essential function of their job;
  • To receive assistance in an emergency or as part of emergency preparedness planning;
  • To willingly communicate with others about circumstances (such as prolonged absence or changes in workspace) that result from the person’s disability;
  • Because of a desire to express an aspect of their personal experience;
  • The employee is never required to disclose, except when seeking an accommodation.

5. What is the difference between completing a self-identification form and requesting a reasonable

  • Self-identification is for affirmative action purposes and does not relate to reasonable accommodations provided under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Under the ADA, an individual with a disability can request a reasonable accommodation to ensure they have an equal employment opportunity. To receive an accommodation, an employee needs to self-disclose the fact that they have a disability, unless the disability is obvious. Again, this process is different than self-identifying.
  • An accommodation can be provided:
    • During the job application process to enable a qualified applicant with a disability to be considered for the position;
    • In the work environment, to enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of that position; or
    • To enable an employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment in the same way as employees without disabilities.
  • An employee or applicant does not need to complete the self-identification form to be eligible for a reasonable accommodation.
  • An employee can request a reasonable accommodation online. For more information visit Mass.gov/ReasonableAccommodations

6. Why should I self-identify using Employee Self-Service?

  • Convenience, you can self-identify at any time through Employee Self-Service
  • Ease of access from a mobile device
  • Simplified process and no forms to return to the ADA Coordinator

Please be aware that self-identification through Employee Self-Service may still require verifying in the event the employee requests a reasonable accommodation.

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