Why People with Disabilities Should not be Overlooked in the Workplace By Heather Wagner
Photo courtesy of www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth
There is a misconception that people with disabilities cannot work for themselves. In reality people with disabilities are efficient, qualified, loyal and eager to contribute to society.
Medical conditions like ALS or cerebral palsy cause people to need physical assistance, meanwhile they are perfectly mentally capable of getting the job done.
Unfortunately, the stigma behind disabilities as a burden in society still remains, while all else in our world evolves. We are in a place in our world today where our forward thinking and advanced technology can accommodate any disability.
Photo courtesy of sharingbeautywithall.loreal.com/developing/promoting-access-employment-and-social-inclusion
Here are three reasons why people with disabilities should not be overlooked in the workplace:
1. People with disabilities are efficient and loyal.
According to Lindsey Haaser, founder and CEO of Advocations a company that helps people with disabilities find jobs, as well as train companies to realize the value of competitive difference.
“People with disabilities are inherently problem solvers, they have to be to get things done. We are now enabling them to use their skills and different perspective of the world to add value to the workplace and society.”
An example of this contributing in a workplace, there is a fast-growing company in Charlotte that has an entry level job that is “easy, but people get bored and leave.”
Photo courtesy of http://www.rantnow.com/2014/03/13/top-distractions-when-you-work-from-home/
The data entry job is designed so that you can work from home with a flexible schedule, so they recruited a lot of stay-at- home moms. However, the company had little success, because the job needed to be completed the same way each time and there was little tolerance for errors or oversights.
Lindsey quickly recognized that this would be a perfect job for some people with autism,
“People with autism are naturally wired to perform better than the average individual in jobs that require following a standardized process, consistently for long periods of time.”
Photo courtesy of https://www.pinterest.com/pin/393994667386882012/
Not only can they be better suited to the work, they often are more loyal to the job. CBS covered a story about Freida David, who worked at a McDonald’s in Needham, Massachusetts for 32 years.
Photo courtesy of CBS news
Her community threw her a retirement party for all the hard work that she achieved during her time in the company. A representative at the McDonald’s had said,
“We learned a lot more from her than she could ever learn from us.”
Her loyalty was in McDonald’s best interest because it cut down long-time costs within the company. It is not a question if people with disabilities can produce quality work, but it is a matter if companies are willing to open their minds and hire them. According to Lindsey,
“Unless you get one person with disabilities to show the company what can be done, you are never are going to move the dial for inclusion in the workplace.”
2. Giving people with disabilities a job enhances their quality of life.
Here at Project Vive, we make an affordable device called the Voz Box that gives people with complex communication needs the ability to speak.
We recognize that having a voice is essential to quality of life. Arlyn, one of our Voz Box users with a degree in English, has a keen eye for detail and a beautiful way with words. She uses the Voz Box to share her poetry, hold workshops, and present speeches.
Although Arlyn is perfectly qualified for a numerous number of jobs, like copywriting and proofreading, she is unemployed because she has cerebral palsy. Many companies have a lack of education on people with disabilities and their work ethic.
Arlyn would rather be recognized for her accomplishments, such as her poetry, rather than as just another person with cerebral palsy. A person that isn’t defined by his or her disability, but a person who is actually involved in his or her community and contributing to society.
Here is a video of Arlyn living her dreams and presenting her talents to her synagogue. While this moment is beautiful, it’s short lived. With a job, she would be able to share her talents every day.
3. Hiring people with disabilities is better for society.
There are over 21 million working-age adults with disabilities according to “Exploring the Bottom Line: A Study of the Costs and Benefits of Workers with Disabilities” by DePaul University. However, only 40% work whereas the employment rate for non-disabled working-age adults is 80%.
Companies and hiring managers are beginning to embrace diversity in the workplace when it comes to hiring more women and people of color. However, when it comes to discrimination, people with disabilities are often not included in the conversation. According to Lindsey, society would have
“a lot more advancement in technology, process flow and the way people do business”
if more people with disabilities worked in positions that tap into their potential. Take the push start buttons that are in cars as an example. Lindsey explains, “these buttons were made by the car industry as a way to assist the aging market. The result, a completely new way to start an engine that is now standard in most new vehicles.”
Photo courtesy of https://www.perfectionistautosound.com/push-to-start/
Evidently, with a community of natural problem solvers and unconventional thinkers, we have the opportunity to experience a new perspective in the workforce and in the world.
Now is the time for disability groups and society to come together and make our world an inclusive one. Are you ready?
Also, Arlyn’s looking for a part-time job. If you can help please let us know at www.projectvive.com