Office for People With Developmental Disabilities

Print: Print this page

Dispelling Myths

02/02/17

Have you heard some of the common misconceptions about hiring individuals with disabilities?  Industry reports consistently rate workers with disabilities as average or above average in performance, attendance, and safety (DuPont report). When it comes to employee retention and reduced turnover costs, research has found that workers with disabilities are not “job hoppers.” On the contrary, they are inclined to remain in their jobs longer than the general workforce.

The following dispels some of the common myths.

Myth:  Individuals with disabilities do not have the right skills for business.

Employees with disabilities have strengths, traits and qualities that make them valuable to the workforce, including perseverance, problem solving, goal setting and determination.  Often their unique characteristics and skills are well-suited to a particular business.  For example, while some employees may find repetitive work boring, others thrive on routine and predictability.  On the other hand, many people with disabilities possess advanced training and/or post-secondary degrees that make them qualified to fulfill a variety of traditional jobs..

Additionally, a Harris poll discovered that 82 percent of managers said it isn’t any harder to supervise employees with disabilities than employees without disabilities.

There are extensive benefits to a company that employs people with disabilities, such as having reliable and loyal workers, diversifying the talent pool and even saving money.

Myth:  Supports in the workplace are costly.

According to the National Center on Workforce Disability (NCWD) the majority of employees—at least 73 percent—don’t require any type of accommodation. Of the ones that do, 51 percent cost less than $500, and these accommodations also often benefit employees without disabilities. The most requested accommodation is a flexible work schedule, which costs nothing. For some excellent examples of accommodations, visit the National Center on Workforce Disability (NCWD).

The federal government offers tax incentives to help employers pay for any accommodations or modifications that will make their businesses accessible to persons with disabilities.  (Studies indicate, however, that the number one reason employers hire people with disabilities is NOT the tax credits or incentives; it is because employees with disabilities are loyal, dependable and remain on the workforce longer than other employees.)

Myth:  Employees with disabilities are easily offended.

Common etiquette can avoid hurt feelings. People with disabilities are people first.  Using language that puts the individual first (i.e. person with a disability, not the disabled; or someone who uses a wheelchair, not wheelchair-bound) demonstrates the level of respect that is warranted.  If you are unsure, don’t be afraid to ask the individual what he or she prefers.  --

There are a number of things employers can do to include people with disabilities in your workforce.   The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) recommends several strategies including:

  • Conduct training for employees including discrimination prevention and ADA specific training for managers and supervisors
  •  Commit to diversity and equitable employment for all individuals regardless of their disabilities.
  •  Survey employees to understand their perceptions of inclusion or bias.
  • Offer mentoring opportunities.
  •  Focus recruiting and retention efforts on employees with disabilities.
  •  Include diversity and inclusion effectiveness as part of supervisors’ job responsibilities.

For training resources to help you with diversity training, contact Northeast ADA Center  or ACCES-VR.

Myth:  Co-workers may not want to work with people with disabilities and their productivity will decrease.

People with disabilities who have overcome challenges and who demonstrate a strong commitment and loyalty to the employer are often a positive influence on their coworkers.

Myth:  Getting info on hiring and working with people with disabilities is expensive and time consuming.

There are a number of resources available to employers to you.  See the Resources section in this toolkit for more information.

Myth:  Hiring people with disabilities makes businesses vulnerable to litigation.

There is no evidence that supports this, as very few businesses experience disability-related claims.

Myth:  Supporting people with disabilities can adversely affect the businesses’ bottom line.

It’s actually the opposite. Hiring people with disabilities provides businesses with a competitive advantage. Research has shown that people have a more favorable view of businesses that employ people with disabilities and would prefer to patronize these businesses.  People with disabilities are also customers who spend billions of dollars annually on purchases.  Disability-friendly businesses earn the patronage of individuals with disabilities, their families and their friends.  In addition, some of the accommodations that benefit people with disabilities, such as automatic door openers, talking ATMs and accessible websites also benefit people without disabilities, and as our population ages, the need for greater accessibility also increases.

Myth: Hiring workers who have disabilities increases workers compensation insurance rates.

Insurance rates are based solely on the relative hazards of the operation and the organization’s accident experience, not on whether an employer has hired workers with disabilities.

Sources: 

Disability: Dispelling the Myths How People With Disabilities Can Meet Employer Needs -- UNTAPPED RESOURCES IN TODAY’S ECONOMY; Center for Workforce Preparation, an affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce

Think Beyond the Label, a public-private network spearheaded by Health & Disability Advocates that works to increase employment for qualified job seekers with disabilities