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Myths and Facts About Workers with Disabilities

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: 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, 12% cost between $501 and $1,000, and 22% cost more than $1,000.

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.

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