Myth: People experiencing disabilities, whether visible or invisible, are not able to be productive, contributing members of the workforce. They have a low attendance record and are usually late.
Reality: People with disabilities can and are productive members of the workforce. In fact, that’s the very reason why they are employed! Sometimes a person’s disability makes them uniquely qualified for a position.
Susan works as a Peer Specialist, supporting people in recovery from mental illness to build their skills, manage their mental health, and continue on the path to recovery. “Having a disability helps me do my job better than if I didn’t have one,” said Susan. “My differences give me insight into what other people struggle with and gives me the possibility of being able to help them through my knowledge.”
Once people with disabilities are hired, they often have an above average attendance rate, as well as their performance. Industry reports have found that workers with disabilities do their jobs just as well or even better than their non-disabled coworkers.
Myth: People with disabilities don’t have the same cultural need to be recognized for a job well done, or to have their self-worth and self-esteem fulfilled.
Reality: People with disabilities have the same needs to be recognized for their hard work as anyone else. Just like anyone else, receiving praise for a job well done boosts their self-esteem and contributes to their sense of self-worth.
When Amber, whose disability had prevented her from working for a while, transitioned back into the workforce, she said, “Working gave my life a direction and a purpose. I had a reason to get up in the morning and people who benefited and depended on the contributions I made at my job.”
Myth: People with disabilities don’t want to work. They want to be dependent on “the system.” They don’t want to leave the house, earn a decent wage, go shopping, go to the movies, or have fun at an amusement park.
Reality: People with disabilities want to work just as much as anyone else. They want to have full lives—going to school, working, having a family, grocery shopping, going to the movies, attending sporting events, etc.
Before Susan, a Peer Specialist, took the steps to find a job, she had secluded herself in her bedroom, becoming a recluse. Then one day, she told herself that she was wasting her life, preventing herself from having lots of experiences, and giving up too much of her life to something that was in her power to change.
“Since I decided to get a job,” she said, “my life has been more fulfilling than it was before my illness began. My job gives me the opportunity to help people get out into the community. I model behavior that will help the person feel more comfortable going into the community by themselves.”
Myth: Other people can’t work alongside people with disabilities because they’re different. They can’t do their job, take too much time to manage, and will do or say the wrong thing.
Reality: Employing people with disabilities promotes diversity in the workplace, which has a positive effect on all workers. When Keystone works with businesses to find employment for an individual, our goal is to make sure that both the business and the person will benefit. As required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses must make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, but the person must still be qualified for the position in order to be hired.
John Hollenbach, the general manager of United Water Pennsylvania, said “Having Ron a part of United Water ranks right up there as one of the highlights of my 34-year career with the company. He looks forward to coming into work each day and has earned the respect and admiration of our employees.”
Below are more links with information dispelling the myths about people with disabilities in the workforce. It’s worth checking them out to see how inclusive employment is a win-win for everyone.