As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, we cheer ourselves by thinking of future socializing in-person. We also think about returning to work or activities we love. These hopes help us through the challenges of physical distancing. Moreover, these challenges show us that we can be more flexible or more creative than we thought we could. For instance, work during the pandemic has taken new forms and new strategies for success. Many of these strategies are also practices that help employers accommodate workers with disabilities. For instance, to change their policies in response to COVID-19, employers must learn to distinguish true information about the pandemic from rumours. In the same way, employers can learn to distinguish true information about workers with disabilities from harmful myths. As a result, workplace leaders and supervisors can gain the knowledge needed for employing workers with disabilities after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Employing Workers with Disabilities After the COVID-19 Pandemic
Most people with disabilities are capable of working and eager to contribute to their communities and the economy. However, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is high. Many people responsible for hiring lack personal experience interacting with people who have disabilities. As a result, these employers may believe in a number of myths about employing people with disabilities. Here we outline what some of these myths are. We also debunk the myths so that more people can know the truth about working with people who have disabilities.
Myth: Lack of Suitable Job Positions
Some employers assume that a person with a disability would not be able to fill the jobs available in their workplaces. When hiring managers create lists of job tasks, they often think that people with certain disabilities would not be able to fulfill those responsibilities. However, employees with disabilities have many unique ways of performing tasks. They have used these methods in their daily lives while gaining qualifications, or in previous jobs.
Myth: Lack of education
Despite having disabilities, people seeking employment are well-educated:
- 50% have graduated from high school
- 40% have post-secondary credentials
Canadian adults with disabilities are 66% as likely to have a post-secondary education as compared to other adults.
Myth: Expensive to Accommodate
Employers think that hiring people needing accommodations is too costly. They believe they need to purchase specialized equipment or make other modifications, such as:
- Widened doorways
- Accessible bathrooms
- Specialized computer software
In fact, accommodation is quite inexpensive in many cases. Over half of the needed changes cost $500 or less. Most accommodations involve:
- Changing work hours or job tasks
- Making small, inexpensive modifications to workstations
Less than half of accommodations cost $1,500 or more. However, there are many sources of funding, including government grants, available to cover costs for accommodations like building renovations or software.
Our next article will outline more myths, and discuss how employers can find accurate information about workers with disabilities.