Talent Knows No Limits
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"Workers with a disability have a positive effect on co-workers."

Resources on Facts and Myths


Connections in the Land of Disability is a thought-provoking and passionate book that will change how you think about disabilities and the people who have them.

The book, Able!, by Nancy Henderson, is a true story that chronicles the joys and challenges of managing a business where three of every four workers have a disability.
See a book review here.

Employers and the ADA: Myths and Facts is a page on the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s site for employers that debunks ten common myths about federal law.

10 Employment myths video

Ten Employment Myths is a new (March 2010) video from the US Department of Justice that responds to concerns expressed by employers.

Seven Myths to dispel is from the Center For Workforce Preparation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

































































































































Facts and Myths

Myths are roadblocks that interfere with the ability of persons with disabilities to have equality in employment. These roadblocks usually result from a lack of experience and interaction with persons with disabilities. This lack of familiarity has nourished negative attitudes concerning employment of persons with disabilities. 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 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: Individuals with disablities do not have the right skills for business.

Fact: People with disabilities develop important critical thinking skills.

“People who have disabilities, either through birth or because they have acquired one, must develop other strengths, traits, and qualities—perseverance, problem solving, goal setting, determination—that make them valuable and marketable in the workplace.”
–Jennifer Sheehy, U.S. Department of Education

Fact: People with disabilities bring unique characteristics and skills to the workforce.

“One manufacturer had difficulty in retaining employees to work in a high-noise area of the plant—employees often complained of headaches. Individuals who are deaf weren’t bothered by the noise. This was a win-win for everybody.”
–Bradley Bellacicco, Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce

Myth: Supports in the workplace would be too costly.

Fact: Accommodations are generally not expensive.

“Many employers believe that they will have to change their physical structures, every desk, every doorway … but statistics show that 15% of accommodations cost nothing and 50% of accommodations cost less than $500.”
–Marian Vessels,ADA & IT Information Center for the Mid-Atlantic Region

A March 2003 Work Trends report found that the vast majority (73%) of employers reported that their workers with disabilities did not require accommodations.

Fact: Employers make accommodations daily.

“The most requested accommodation is a flexible work schedule, which costs nothing.”
–Marian Vessels,ADA & IT Information Center for the Mid-Atlantic Region

“Any operation that has more than a handful of workers is going to have to make accommodations. This might include not asking an employee with a bad back to lift a heavy box or not requiring an employee with poor eyesight to read fine print.You’re not doing something unusual. You’re accommodating the people you work with without even thinking about it.”
–Bradley Bellacicco, Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce

Fact: As the workforce ages, supports will be necessary for incumbent workers.

“We can’t forget about the graying workforce.These workers will need to be accommodated because their expertise and experience add value to the business.”
–Marian Vessels,ADA & IT Information Center for the Mid-Atlantic Region

Myth: Saying the wrong thing in the workplace will offend employees with disabilities.

Fact: Simple etiquette can avoid relationship barriers.

“We see the fear factor in many employers. They’re worried about saying the wrong thing, embarrassing themselves, or setting themselves up for a lawsuit. But that’s not the case at all. People with disabilities know that others don’t know the language. It’s okay to say ‘walk’ to someone who uses a wheelchair or to say ‘see’ to someone who is blind.”
–Marian Vessels,ADA & IT Information Center for the Mid-Atlantic Region

Fact: People with disabilities appreciate “people first” language.

Employers need only remember to put the person first and the disability second. This means referring to workers as “people with disabilities” not “the disabled” and describing an individual as a “person who uses a wheelchair,” not one who is “wheelchair bound.” Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you are unsure of what to do.

Myth: Co-workers will be uncomfortable and their productivity will be negatively impacted.

Fact: Workers with disabilities have a positive effect on co-workers.

“After hiring the first employee with a disability in his department, Suntrust’s manager found that employee morale and productivity had increased and there was a noticeable decrease in turnover.”
–Katherine O. Mccary, Suntrust Bank, Mid-Atlantic

“Watching someone who has overcome a major challenge in his or her life and manages the disability on the job raises morale and provides a good working environment for everyone.”
–Jennifer Sheehy, U.S. Department of Education

Myth: Getting information on how to hire people with disabilities is time-consuming and complicated.

Fact: Help is easy to get and available at little or no cost.

Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers (DBTACS) provide employers with information, training, and technical assistance in such matters as complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), employing people with disabilities, and alleviating employers’
Concerns. (See their section entitled “Getting Help” for contact information.)

“By calling the local DBTAC, employers can find out who’s doing what in their communities.The DBTAC can help employers connect with people who have disabilities and put employers in touch with businesses that have successfully hired them.”
–Marian Vessels,ADA & IT Information Center for the Mid-Atlantic Region

The website Disabilityinfo.gov is a good source of information for
Businesses and community-based organizations needing quick answers to questions about services for people with disabilities and the companies that hire them.

Fact: Employers may be eligible for tax credits and tax deductions.

Employers can use financial incentives—tax credits or deductions—to help create disability-friendly environments for workers and customers with disabilities.The dbtacs offer information on tax credits that offset costs related to accommodations for both employees and customers. The most frequently used employer incentives for hiring individuals with
Disabilities are the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, the Welfare to Work Tax Credit, and the Veterans Job Training Act. In addition, other tax credits and deductions are available to employers, including the Disabled Access Credit, the Architectural/Transportation Tax Deduction, the Mentor-Protégé Program, and the Social Security Administration Employment Network Cash Provision.

Myth: Hiring people with disabilities makes an employer vulnerable to litigation.

Fact: Very few businesses experience disability-related claims.

In a 1998 survey of employers regarding their experiences with the ADA, the vast majority of respondents reported that they had experienced no disability-related claims against their companies. In a 2003 survey, 91% of respondents indicated that they were not aware of any ADA complaints filed against their companies in the last 12 months.

Myth: Serving people with disabilities will adversely affect business' bottom line.

Fact: Consumers with disabilities represent an enormous market niche.

People with disabilities have a combined income of more than $1 trillion, with $220 billion in discretionary income.  By comparison, the teen market, heavily catered to by businesses, controls $140 billion in spending power according to a 1998 estimate by Teenage Research Unlimited.

Fact: Marketing to consumers with disabilities and making appropriate accommodations makes good business sense.

Businesses that make accommodations reap the benefits. For example, increased access provisions enabled hotel and hospitality revenues to increase by 12%.  Marketing Studies have shown that 54% of households pay more attention to and patronize businesses that feature people with disabilities in their advertising.  Disability-friendly businesses earn the lucrative and loyal patronage of people with disabilities, their families, and their friends. In 1995, people with disabilities spent more than $81 billion on travel, excluding expenditures of family, friends, and escorts. According to the food-service industry, people with disabilities eat out between 2 and 30 times a month.

Fact: Yesterday’s accommodation is today’s product innovation.

Customers with disabilities have the same preferences, perceptions, attitudes, habits, and needs as customers without disabilities, and they are looking for the same quality of products and services.  Today, automatic door openers, talking atms, accessible photocopiers, and accessible web sites are commonplace. The telecommunications industry is developing wireless communication systems for people with hearing impairments. As the population ages, greater numbers of people will require accessible home design to be a readily available option.