Workplaces in the United States are increasingly inclusive – and that’s a good thing.
However, there are still some pervasive myths about workers with disabilities that generate negative attitudes among employers and employees alike. These are some of the top misconceptions that everyone should be aware of.
Myth: Disabled workers are all very limited in their abilities
Some people believe that disabled individuals are only suited for a narrow range of jobs – usually low-skilled. In reality, disabled workers can be found in every industry and excel in various roles. With advancements in technology and a growing emphasis on inclusive hiring practices, employers can tap into a diverse pool of talent that includes disabled individuals with a wide range of skills and qualifications – including disabled people with advanced degrees and remarkable abilities, like the late Stephen Hawking.
Myth: Accommodations for disabled workers are costly
Another misconception is that accommodating disabled workers is prohibitively expensive. Many accommodations are simple, cost-effective and contribute to a more inclusive work environment. Additionally, the benefits of a diverse workforce, including improved morale and productivity, often outweigh the initial investment in accommodations – which, according to the U.S. Job Accommodation Network usually cost nothing at all (and only about $500, on average, when they do have any cost).
Myth: Disabled workers are a drain on productivity and profits
In reality, research consistently demonstrates that productivity is not determined by disability. Many disabled individuals bring unique perspectives, problem-solving skills and a strong work ethic to their jobs. Studies have shown that workplaces that are more inclusive of the disabled have, on average, 28% higher revenues. They also have less turnover and fewer accidents.
Myth: Accommodation for disabled employees means special treatment
Employees without disabilities sometimes believe that their disabled peers are getting special treatment and resent them for it. They see a co-worker with an invisible disability being allowed flexible leave or a special chair and they sometimes resent it. This is especially true when a co-worker has an invisible disability. In reality, reasonable accommodations merely level the playing field for the disabled worker, making it possible for them to be their most productive selves.
Common myths about workers with disabilities hurt employers because they can end up missing out on great employees due to biases – but they also hurt those with disabilities. Disabled workers can be denied jobs or advancement in their position, and be subjected to hostility and discrimination over their perceived “special treatment” or “nuisance factor.” If you have a disability and you’ve been exposed to discrimination in the workplace or denied reasonable accommodations, it may be time to find out more about your legal options.