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Why Don't People with Disabilities Self-Identify?

I hate being labeled

Why do employees hesitate to identify that they have a disability?

There are serious concerns that the information collected will be used negatively against an employee/applicant for the selection of positions, promotions, awards, or that it could lead to a general difference in treatment. Identifying a disability is a personal choice, one that should be made on an informed basis. Therefore, we hope that employees will consider the facts and weigh the pros and cons before making a decision.

FACT: The Standard Form 256 (SF256) is used for capturing disability-related data and is held under strict confidentiality rules. This data is used strictly to report cumulative, aggregate data only, and is never reported on an individual basis meaning that the reported information is not released with any personal identifiers that would link a name with a disability.

Three reasons you should self-identify:

  1. The data allows NIH to proactively evaluate the inclusiveness of employment programs such as career development, training, awards, and other programs.
  2. The data permits NIH to better serve its employees by striving to make every aspect of the agency employment experience accessible to people with disabilities. This includes facilities, programs, technology, websites, and the benefits and privileges of employment.
  3. The data enables NIH to measure progress with regards to increasing employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

How do you self-identify as having a disability?

It’s as easy as 1-2-3.

  1. Access the SF256 at,
  2. complete the form, and
  3. print and send it to the Office of Human Resources.

Completing this form is optional for all employees except for those hired via the Schedule A appointment authority.

If you have any questions regarding the NIH Disability Employment Program, please contact the Disability Program Manager, Kimberly Kirkpatrick on 301.451.0748 or via email at