Skip to Navigation Skip to Content
Empower 1-844-517-1376 EMPOWER Accessibility Search Contact
How can we help you?
Contact Information
p: 1-844-517-1376
Media Files
inclusionNL Logo M
An image for

Myths about Disabilities

Removing boundaries with facts

Individuals with disabilities who are not in the labour force are faced with the misperception that they are either unable or unwilling to work. Failure to recognize and address these myths and negative stereotypes results in discrimination and the exclusion of individuals with disabilities from the workplace despite their willingness and ability to actively participate in the labour force. 1

Myth:

My company doesn’t have any jobs that persons with disabilities could do.

Fact:

People with disabilities have comparable skills and the same education level as those without disabilities. 2

Myth:

Individuals with disabilities don’t have the education I need.

Fact:

Over half of individuals with disabilities have high school diplomas and over a third have post-secondary diplomas. Human Resources and Skills Development Canada report that, overall, combining university, college, and trades, Canadian adults with disabilities are about two thirds as likely to have a post-secondary education as adults without disabilities. 3

Myth:

People with disabilities are not as productive as other workers.

Fact:

The job performance of people with disabilities has been analyzed since 1948 in various national, regional, and company-specific studies. Results have consistently shown people with disabilities to be hard-working, committed employees who are as productive and proficient as any other worker. They have equal or better job performance rates, higher retention rates, and lower absenteeism. 4

Myth:

It doesn’t matter to my customers if I provide services to people with disabilities or not.

Fact:

Canadians with disabilities have access to a combined annual disposable income of $25 billion annually, making this a spending group with significant clout. As well, a COMPAS survey reported that 78% of Canadians say they are more likely to buy a product or service from a company that has a policy of hiring people with disabilities over a company that does not 5 .

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. 6

Myth:

Accommodations are expensive, complicated, and require an investment in specialized equipment and training.

Fact:

The accommodations most frequently required by employees cost nothing or very little. Flexible working hours, modifications to job duties, or inexpensive adaptations to working stations are all that’s needed to help most employees with disabilities perform their job duties.

A national study conducted in 2004 by the Canadian Abilities Foundation found that 52% of employees could be accommodated for under $500 and that almost all workers could be accommodated for under $1500. US research supports these figures, reporting two-thirds of accommodation costs at less than $500.

Accommodations like ramps, automatic door openers, widened doorways, and wheelchair accessible washrooms make the employer’s workplace more accessible to other potential employees with disabilities. Clients and customers, like parents with baby strollers and people making deliveries, also enjoy the comforts of a less cumbersome environment. It is therefore misleading to consider the cost of these changes as the cost of accommodating just one employee. 7

Myth:

It is impossible to determine a fair salary range for workers with disabilities.

Fact:

Actually, determining this salary is simple. Employees with disabilities should receive prevailing wages and benefits based on productivity and job performance. 8

Myth:

It’s almost impossible to interview people with disabilities without breaking human rights laws.

Fact:

Interviewing is easy. The key is to focus on abilities rather than disabilities. Ask the same job-related questions that you ask other applicants. For example, ask if they are able to perform the key tasks in the job description. If there are any concerns, ask if they have any ideas how the challenge could be overcome. The applicant is an expert at solving problems and overcoming challenges related to their disability. 9

Myth:

Employees with a disability are more difficult to supervise.

Fact:

Employees with disabilities can and should be held accountable to the same job standards as other employees. Supervisory skills work equally well with employees with disabilities. One study compared workers with and without disabilities in the hospitality, health care, and retail sectors, and found that supervision was similar for both groups. 10

Myth:

Existing staff will resent the ‘special treatment’ given to employees with disabilities.

Fact:

Most people have either a relative or friend with a disability of some type. They themselves may have one of many hidden disabilities, and be pleased to see an employer treating his or her employees fairly. Accommodating a person’s disability is not giving ‘special’ or preferential treatment. Those same people would want to be accommodated if they suddenly had a health issue or acquired a disability. 11

Myth:

Someone will always have to help them. 

Fact:

Proper training ensures people can do a job well – whether they have a disability or not. Individuals with disabilities have adjusted to their disability in most cases. It does not affect their ability to work unaided 12 .

Myth:

I can’t fire or discipline an employee with a disability.

Fact:

There are laws, such as the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Act, the Canadian Human Rights Act, and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, in place to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities by providing equal access in the areas of employment, transportation, public accommodations, public services, and telecommunications. However, there are no special procedures for firing or disciplining employees with disabilities. 

Establish clear performance expectations from the start. If a performance problem does occur, follow your company’s usual guidelines: discuss the problem with the worker, look for solutions, document the situation, and, if necessary, terminate the employment agreement. 13

Myth:

There is no good business reason to hire a person with a disability.

Fact:

People with disabilities have developed creative problem-solving skills other employees have never had to develop. Hiring people with disabilities expands your customer base, since employees with disabilities can identify with a diverse range of customers and anticipate their wants and needs. Anything you do to ‘accommodate’ your new employee, for example, installing automated doors, may make it easier for seniors and people with disabilities to access your business. Hiring people with disabilities shows your customers and staff that your company is an inclusive organization that values everyone’s contributions. 14

Footnotes

  1. “Myths about hiring persons with disabilities”, Government of NB – MythBusters
    Back to Content
  2. 10 x 10 Challenge Toolkit – WorkAble Solutions, BC
    Back to Content
  3. “Myths about hiring persons with disabilities”, Government of NB – MythBusters
    Back to Content
  4. “Taking action: An HR guide hiring and retaining employees with disabilities”, section – “The business case for employing people with disabilities & Myths about hiring persons with disabilities”, Government of NB – MythBusters
    Back to Content
  5. “Myths about hiring persons with disabilities”, Government of NB – MythBusters
    Back to Content
  6. National Center on Workforce and Disability Adult, US
    Back to Content
  7. “Taking action: An HR guide hiring and retaining employees with disabilities”, section – “The business case for employing people with disabilities & Myths about hiring persons with disabilities”, Government of NB – MythBusters”
    Back to Content
  8. “Employer Toolkit”, Workforce Solutions, US
    Back to Content
  9. “Rethinking disability in the private sector we all have abilities. Some are just more apparent than others.” Report from the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
    Back to Content
  10. “Rethinking disability in the private sector we all have abilities. Some are just more apparent than others.” Report from the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities
    Back to Content
  11. “Recruit Ability… A handbook for success in recruitment & hiring individuals with disabilities”, Persons with Disabilities Collaborative Partnership Network of Nova Scotia
    Back to Content
  12. Building and educating tomorrow’s workforce newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 1, Spring 2011, Government of Alberta
    Back to Content
  13. Building and educating tomorrow’s workforce newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 1, Spring 2011, Government of Alberta
    Back to Content
  14. Building and educating tomorrow’s workforce newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 1, Spring 2011, Government of Alberta
    Back to Content

The Latest

Accommodations in Service Delivery

+
An image for Accommodations in Service Delivery

Ensuring your customers are happy is one of the easiest ways to have a successful business. So, why not consider satisfying even more customers?

Read More

Accommodation in the Workplace

+
An image for Accommodation in the Workplace

A great work environment involves flexibility and understanding, both for the employer and the employee. So, chances are you are already making accommodations.

Read More

A Panel Discussion on Inclusive Employment

+

A Panel Discussion on Inclusive Employment with International Expert Susan Scott-Parker December 1, 2016 - Holiday Inn

Read More
Close Overlay

Access Keys

Accessibility
Other