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Hiring the disabled

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As the Caribbean looks for more ways to become competitive in the free trade market, it’s important not to overlook people who are labelled by society as “disabled”. Disabled people possess valuable skills that can be utilized by almost any employer, but the key is to break down the negative barriers and misconceptions that have dominated the minds in mainstream culture.{{more}}

Quite frankly, the word “disabled” conjures up distorted images of people not able to function and that is inaccurate. That image is compounded by the fact that children are not educated and sensitized about these issues, so they grow up thinking it is okay to make fun of, or refer to the disabled in derogatory terms. That mindset does not change as that child becomes an adult and enters the workforce.

Communities worldwide have had to figure out over the decades how to incorporate disabled individuals into the general workforce. The solution for some societies has been to create products or services that are made exclusively by a group of disabled people. While that is a great idea, it should not be the only type of employment available.

People with disabilities have different abilities that make them capable, qualified workers, depending on the position and industry. Employers must begin to address the prejudices and the apprehension that have kept so many from opening their doors to people with disabilities. In order to do that, there are a few myths that must be debunked so progress can begin.

Myth: People with disabilities are not good workers.

Truth: That statement is not true. A person who has a disability wants to be treated as “normal” and tends to work harder to gain approval, and meet and even exceed the expectations of the employer.

Myth: People with disabilities need extra help from fellow employees and that is a time waster.

Truth: Again, that statement is false. People with disabilities are capable of caring for themselves and would prefer not to be given preferential treatment. In fact, it’s often the able-bodied onlooker who feels sympathy for the individual and wants to offer assistance. They do not need sympathy, just a fair shot at earning a living.

Myth: People with disabilities should be given easy work.

Truth: A person’s physical disability does not mean that their mind is not sharp. Challenge the worker, as they have feelings and will get bored or feel disrespected if their colleagues go out of their way to offer easy tasks.

Myth: When people with disabilities make a mistake, you should go easy on them.

Truth: When errors are made, they should be corrected, and the same standard should be used across the board for the able-bodied and the disabled. The goal is to incorporate the disabled and treat them as humans with dignity and respect, not scorn and indifference.

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