Employers Connect Disabled with Doubt

In Everyone has one, Opinion by Marelise Prinsloo Jacob

One of the most important things one can have when starting out in life – and indeed later on as well – is a good resume. Fax it, email it, post it, it doesn’t matter, just as long as the future employer knows who you are, where you come from, what you do and how long you’ve been doing it.

To apply for work can sometimes be a nerve-wracking experience – especially when you need that job. It can change the course of your life; give your self-esteem a huge boost; not to mention your bank account.

When you are disabled, however, you have two choices. Either be honest; let it be known on your resume that you do have a disability, physical or otherwise. Or you can decide to simply not mention it, and be slightly dishonest.

A disabled person educated in a mainstream school, perhaps university, can easily apply for any position in his or her field. Evaluated on merit, experience and skill, there is little reason to believe he or she will not be considered for the position if suited.

Shockingly, positions set aside especially for the disabled are more often than not low-grade, out of the way, easy-to-do. Understandably some disabled are, for particular reasons, unable to work in a normal environment.

Unfortunately, for this reason, the business sector has developed a certain stereotype of the Disabled Person.

The stereotype of a disabled person is someone who is slow, dim-witted, unable to grasp difficult tasks etc. Most job ads for the disabled state merely he or she must be computer literate.

The assumption then becomes that most disabled people strive to be a secretary, perhaps even an administrative assistant. The assumption is that this is their life’s ambition – to just be able to contribute to society.

When asking first graders in a mainstream school “What do you want to be when you grow up?” the answers range form fire-fighter to ballerina, from doctor to astronaut. No-one strives to just contribute. That statement and chain of thought is drilled into the disabled mind until it becomes reality.

It is true that there are disabled individuals who are extremely dependant on others, who do not have the capacity to obtain a degree or diploma, or even finish high school.

This is then the dilemma with which the disabled community must cope. The stereotype is unfair, but the stereotype is true – sometimes.

Why would an employer take the risk of employing someone who might not be up to the challenge of working under pressure, meeting deadlines or dealing with the stress of difficult clients?

Employers need to trust their employees, but with disabled employees, trust often gets mixed up with doubt.

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