Commentary

October 5, 2012

Myths, facts about people with disabilities

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

This national campaign is intended to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrate the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

This year’s theme is “A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?” As employers strive to create an inclusive workforce, it is important to be aware of the myths that serve as roadblocks and interfere with the ability of persons with disabilities to have equality in employment. Listed below are some common myths and the facts that tell the real story.

 

MYTH: Hiring employees with disabilities increases workers compensation insurance rates.

FACT: Insurance rates are based solely on the relative hazards of the operation and the organization’s accident experience, not on whether workers have disabilities.

 

MYTH: Employees with disabilities have a higher absentee rate than employees without disabilities.

FACT: Studies by firms such as DuPont show that employees with disabilities are not absent any more than employees without disabilities.

 

MYTH: Persons with disabilities are inspirational, courageous and brave for being able to overcome their disability.

FACT: Persons with disabilities are simply carrying on normal activities of living when they drive to work, go grocery shopping, pay their bills or compete in athletic events.

 

MYTH: Persons with disabilities need to be protected from failing.

FACT: Persons with disabilities have a right to participate in the full range of human experiences including success and failure. Employers should have the same expectations of, and work requirements for, all employees.

 

MYTH: Persons with disabilities have problems getting to work.

FACT: Persons with disabilities are capable of supplying their own transportation by choosing to walk, use a car pool, drive, take public transportation or a cab. Their modes of transportation to work are as varied as those of other employees.

 

MYTH: Persons who are deaf make ideal employees in noisy work environments.

FACT: Loud noises of a certain vibratory nature can cause further harm to the auditory system. Persons who are deaf should be hired for all jobs that they have the skills and talents to perform. No person with a disability should be prejudged regarding employment opportunities.

 

MYTH: Considerable expense is necessary to accommodate workers with disabilities.

FACT: Most workers with disabilities require no special accommodations and the cost for those who do is minimal or much lower than many employers believe. Studies by the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s Job Accommodation Network have shown that 15 percent of accommodations cost nothing, 51 percent cost between $1 and $500, 12 percent cost between $501 and $1,000, and 22 percent cost more than $1,000.

Editor’s note: Information provided by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy.

 




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