Barriers to employment
The barriers that exclude persons with disabilities from employment opportunities are social, economic, cultural and political. These obstacles may be directly linked to their disability, or related to the environment in their communities and neighborhoods. Some of the major deterrents to the employment of PWDs are:
- The high cost of accommodations
- Lack of employee productivity
- Rising insurance rates
- Increased risk of accidents
- Not knowing how to act with the employee
- Not knowing whether the employee will fit into the workplace
- Not knowing how to terminate someone if they don’t work out
- Not knowing whether you might commit a human rights’ violation
- Safety concerns
These concerns are mainly caused by lack of knowledge and can be overcome with information. Once PWDs have overcome these barriers and are successful in obtaining employment, there are many benefits to be gained by their employers.
Advantages of employing persons with disabilities
The unique nature of persons with disabilities is one of self determination ad daily they are faced with the challenges, which they have to overcome. This characteristic is generally applied to any task they undertake. This is usually demonstrated in their attitude towards work, as they tend to deploy a solution-oriented approach in executing their tasks. Persons with disabilities tend to be highly self motivated in accomplishing tasks.
- They pay attention to details
- They are reliable
- They are loyal
- Insight and Expertise – persons with disabilities are generally experts on their disability and from within a company are well placed to offer advice and knowledge for colleagues with similar needs.
- Productivity and Reliability – employees with disabilities are as productive and reliable as any other employees.
- Attendance and Loyalty – persons with disabilities have better attendance records and tend to stay with employers longer.
- Safety – it is commonly reported that workers with disabilities have fewer accidents than their non-disabled colleagues.
Although persons with disabilities are unable to do certain things, in the normal way, they usually find innovative ways to execute the same task in order to achieve their desired goals. They are very dedicated workers who stay with their employers longer. They also tend to be less likely to be absent from work than other people because of their self determination to measure up or surpass other workers.
Employees with disabilities should be managed just the same as other employees, based on their intellect, motivation, ability, personality and the same performance standards and expectations should be applied to each employee.
Equal opportunities with other employees at the workplace should be afforded to employees with disabilities to acquire the skills and experience necessary to develop their full potential within the organization.
Employees should be encouraged to apply for promotion, particularly where it appears that they may be reluctant to do so, because of an impairment arising from their disability, or perceived obstacles in their working environment.
Information about career development and promotional opportunities should be made available and communicated in a manner and form that is accessible to employees with disabilities.
Access at the workplace speaks to physical access as well as providing the necessary support systems to enable persons with disabilities to function independently; which is referred to as reasonable accommodation. This means that organizations ensure that persons with disabilities have access to job opportunities, by providing facilities that are accessible and usable. This can also be accomplished by restructuring jobs and schedules, and by modifying equipment and procedures so that a person with a disability can do the job. This includes the following:
- Adapting to the work environment, putting in ramps, elevators and making office space physically accessible.
- Placing the worker where no accommodation is needed
- Redesigning the worker’s job
- Providing training to supervisors and co-workers
- Providing the necessary equipment, software etc.
You might be concerned about the cost of making such adaptations; however you must look at the flipside. This should be seen as an investment in terms of the returns you will get from such an employee, especially when you consider the person with a disability is likely to remain on the job longer, that initial investment is quickly recouped.
There is much to be gained from the technological advancement which enables most forms of disabilities to function more effectively in the workplace with none or minimal loss of productivity and often at no extra cost to the employer for the adaptations and equipment especially if this is done at the developmental stages. If we had a building code which supported making all buildings accessible this problem would be addressed up front.
Jamaica has a growing pool of persons with disabilities who can play an active role in making your business a successful one. We are not asking you to do this because of feelings of sorrow or sympathy, but to consider the proven capacity, experience and skills of the candidate. We are seeking equal opportunities for employment, so that persons with disabilities have an equal chance to be productive and to develop personally.