I definitely recommend checking out this site if you plan to work in the US:askjan.org/
I have utilized JAN in the past & found it to be extremely helpful. They also have a hotline you can call for free counseling on obtaining work with a disability and what to share when -- as well as ideas about
what kinds of accommodations you might seek.
As far as what I have done in the past, I never ever ever disclose my disability if I can help if until I have a firm offer of employment (salary, benefits, estimated start date, manager, position title). At that point, I have to weigh whether the job descript
ion I've been given would require me to get accommodations in order to be successful at my job. If I feel I would need immediate assistance I have told the HR rep -- making sure to measure my words carefully. If I feel I have the ability to start the position without any accommodations, I will do so and raise the issue of my disability when it becomes necessary.
Legally, an employer in the US cannot discriminate against an employee who would be able to fulfill the requirements of a job with reasonable accommodations. That said, there are plenty of unscrupulous people out there who would look for some other reason to put on paper for why they denied a person employment. The primary reasons that happens are (1) concern about
the company's cost of benefits going up, and (2) unfounded beliefs that workers with disabilities are not quality employees (statistically, the opposite tends to be true).
Nevertheless, I also realize that some jobs just aren't a good match for me. I interviewed for one position & worked my network to get the inside scoop on the manager. Come to find out that she felt that crutches & back braces violated the company dress code (yes, they had a VERY strict, very archaic dress code -- especially for women). I could have taken the job & raised it as an ADA violation when it came up, but honestly, life is short and I don't need those kind of hassles right now. So I withdrew my name from consideration. In addition, I was encouraged to apply for a job in my field that professionally would have been a dream opportunity for me -- but the position required that employees were on-call 24/7 except for half a day every other week, M-Th (they were flexible on the day). Obviously, that wasn't going to work for me with my pain issues. I cannot schedule when I have a flare up and need to go get shots. I could maybe tough it out for a day, but that's about
it. I know that job just wouldn't be a good match for me. Most of that information I try to find out through networking because I feel I get better information that way & it avoids the difficult and awkward conversation during the interview process about
sick days, flex time, corporate culture, and so forth.
I've also found that I tend to have better luck with larger firms. Smaller companies are more hit-or-miss. For one, the smallest companies are often exempt from many ADA protections. Two, it is often harder for them to accommodate flex time or sick leave because there are fewer people to cover for you while you're out. Three, larger companies often have specialists in HR that are better trained on ADA law. Yes, there are plenty of exceptions to that rule ... especially if the owner/manager has a disability himself or has a relative with a disability, or if he has worked with an employee with a disability in the past and it was a good experience. Sometimes a tiny office can be advantageous because there isn't a huge book of policies to follow, but from what I've seen it's a lower risk applying to larger companies. Either way, it's a bit of a challenge to do all the research & ask the right questions to ensure that a particular position and employer are going to be a good match for you.
Good luck with the job hunt! Let us know how it goes. :)