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Citizens With Disabilities - Ontario


Interviewing and Working with People who have Disabilities

Myths and Facts About Disabilities

Many myths exist that keep people with disabilities from entering the workforce. Yet the fact is that people with disabilities are no less reliable, talented or productive than their peers. Often, they do not require customized work arrangements. The following is an eye-opening exploration of myths and facts from credible sources and studies.

Conference Board of Canada

MYTH: People with disabilities don't have the education they need.

FACT: Over half of the people with disabilities have high school diplomas and over a third have post-secondary diplomas. [As a side note, Human Resources Development Canada reports that, overall, combining university, college and trades, Canadian adults with disabilities are about two thirds as likely to have a post-secondary education as adults without disabilities.]

MYTH: It costs too much to provide special accommodations needed by employees with disabilities.

FACT: While most people with disabilities in the workforce report some limitation at work (85 percent), fewer than 20 percent require any form of accommodation, and the vast majority of those require one or two supports at most.

MYTH: Most people with disabilities are severely disabled.

FACT: The majority of Canadians with disabilities (90 percent of those under age 35) describe their conditions as mild to moderate.

MYTH: It doesn't matter to my customers if I address the disability issue or not.

FACT: Canadians with disabilities have a combined annual disposable income of $25 billion annually, making this a spending group with significant clout.

Note: From the United States Department of Labor

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

FACT: Studies by 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 are unable to meet performance standards, thus making them a bad employment risk.

FACT: In 1990, DuPont conducted a survey of 811 employees with disabilities and found 90% rated average or better in job performance compared to 95% for employees without disabilities. A similar 1981 DuPont study which involved 2,745 employees with disabilities found that 92% of employees with disabilities rated average or better in job performance compared to 90% of employees without disabilities. The 1981 study results were comparable to DuPont's 1973 job performance study.

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 President's Committee's Job Accommodation Network have shown that 15% of accommodations cost nothing, 51% cost between $1 and $500 US, 12% cost between $501 and $1,000 US, and 22% cost more than $1,000 US.

MYTH: Employees with disabilities are more likely to have accidents on the job than employees without disabilities.

FACT: In the 1990 DuPont study, the safety records of both groups were identical.

From the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services

MYTH: Insurance rates will skyrocket if I hire people with disabilities.

FACT: Hiring people with disabilities does not result in an increase in Workers Compensation rates. Insurance rates are based on the relative hazards of the company's operation and the employer's accident record. An employee's physical condition has no adverse effect. A study of 279 firms conducted by the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers attests to this fact.

MYTH: Persons with disabilities are more prone to additional injuries.

FACT: Workers with disabilities have average or better safety records on and off the job. The US Dept. of Labor, through four national studies, has found that persons with disabilities experience fewer disabling injuries than the average employee exposed to the same hazards.

MYTH: Workers with disabilities do not perform the job well.

FACT: According to many employers who hired people with disabilities, these individuals generally are motivated, capable and dependable. 91% of workers with disabilities perform as well or better with no special privileges as was revealed in a study of 1,452 workers. Persons with disabilities can accomplish any task for which they have the knowledge and ability. As with all employees, it is important to match abilities, interests and experience with job requirements.

MYTH: It will be difficult to supervise employees with disabilities.

FACT: A Harris poll found that 82% of managers said employees with disabilities were no harder to supervise than employees without disabilities. Employees with disabilities should be held accountable to the same job standards as any other employee. Managers should be confident that their supervisory skills will work equally well with employees with disabilities.

MYTH: Persons with disabilities are not reliable.

FACT: Persons with disabilities tend to remain on the job and to maintain better levels of attendance. A US Chamber of Commerce study revealed that workers with disabilities had an 80% lower turnover rate.

From the University of Melbourne

MYTH: People with disabilities can only do light work.

FACT: People with disabilities work successfully across a range of industries and professions.

MYTH: People with disabilities can only do simple, repetitive jobs.

FACT: People with disabilities have a variety of skills to offer, which differ from individual to individual, as with everyone else.

MYTH: People with disabilities will cost more to employ due to higher workers' compensation costs and more sick days taken.

FACT: There is no evidence to support the assumption that employing people with disabilities adds to costs, either in workers' compensation costs, absenteeism or sick days taken.

MYTH: Someone will always have to help them.

FACT: This is not the case with proper training. People with disabilities have adjusted to their disability in most cases. It does not affect their ability to work unaided.

MYTH: People with disabilities are more sensitive than other people, more courageous, kinder, more creative, more admirable or more conscientious.

FACT: People with disabilities do not possess any special characteristics - they are just like other people you employ.

MYTH: There are special requirements and skills involved in interviewing people with disabilities for a job.

FACT: You would conduct the interview the same way for every applicant. If you want to know about the disability and how it might affect job performance, just ask.

From: Triumph Vocational Services

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