Changing Attitudes: Common Myths About People With Disabilities And The Reality
People without disabilities often don’t understand what it’s like to live with a disability and the barriers that people with disabilities face daily. Here are some of the common myths about people with disabilities and the reality.
Myth: People with disabilities are inferior to “normal” people and their lives are very different.
Reality: What is “normal”? We all have different abilities, talents, interests and personalities — you name it! People with disabilities go to school, get married, work, have families, play, do laundry, go shopping, eat out, travel, volunteer, vote, pay taxes, laugh, cry, plan and dream — just like everyone else.
Myth: We need to feel sorry for people with disabilities.
Reality: That’s patronizing. People with disabilities don’t need pity. They need access to opportunities.
Myth: People with disabilities are brave and courageous.
Reality: Adjusting to a disability requires adapting to a lifestyle, not bravery and courage.
Myth: It’s not a good idea to hire people with disabilities. They have a higher turnover rate and they take sick days more often.
Reality: Many studies show that disabled employees are often more productive, dependable and loyal than their non-disabled co-workers and that staff retention is 72% higher among persons with disabilities. That adds up to savings of millions of dollars every year in hiring and training costs. The experiences of large corporations such as DuPont and the Royal Bank of Canada show that when business hires people with disabilities:
Myth: You have to be careful when you’re talking to a person with a disability, because they are easily offended if you use the wrong word.
Reality: You just need to be as polite and respectful as you would when speaking to anyone. If you’re not sure what to say or do, it’s okay to ask.
Myth: It’s difficult serving customers with disabilities.
Reality: Customers with disabilities have the same preferences, perceptions, attitudes, habits, and needs as customers without disabilities, and they are looking for the same quality of products and services.
Everyone, regardless of ability, deserves to be treated with the same dignity and respect.
(Resource: Ministry of Community and Social Services, Accessibility Directorate, 2007)