Myths and stereotypes are some of the most debilitating roadblocks interfering with a disabled person’s chance of a normal life and enjoy equality in all spheres of life, especially employment. These myths transcend gender and geographical boundaries and have a way of persisting in almost every generation. Myths seem to go underground before reappearing when least expected. Just like they have done over the years, these myths still wield the power to affect and alter the lives of those living with disabilities, including the lives of care givers and family members. Common stereotypes and myths that usually emerge in our societies often include the following.
Myth: Disability defines a person
Those living with disability are usually labeled as per their limitations or condition. As a result, it is almost normal to hear such references as “the epileptic”, “the blind” or the “disabled”. However, an individual living with disability is first and foremost a person. You might want to label jars and cars but not persons.
Myth: The severely disabled should live in rehabilitation accomodation, constant supervisions or nursing homes to ensure they are not hurting themselves
As a result of this myth, the many nations have ended up creating a long term system of care relying on institutions like elderly homes, nursing homes and centers for people with disability. However, what is forgotten is that even if an individual is severely disabled he or she can live in their residence along with other members of the family or with enough community related service.
Myth: Those living with disabilities are either sick or have something wrong
What many forget is disability is largely a part of the experiences people go through and has nothing to do with sickness. People living with disabilities, just like non-disabled also get sick and require varying levels of need and mistaking a disabled person as sick has a way of failing to respond to their needs. As a result, a serious stereotype is perpetuated including an assumption that they need a cure.
Myth: Deaf people are great candidates for jobs in noisy working surroundings
The fact is that loud noises even among the deaf as they vibrate inside them can bring about serious harm to their auditory system. Deaf people need to be hired and employed according to the talents and skills they have and as per the jobs they have the ability to carry out. A disabled person should never be pre-judged when it comes to job related opportunities.
Myth: Blind people have a sixth sense
Blind people do not have another extra sense as claimed, but simply have developed their other senses to a fuller extent.
Myth: It’s expensive to accommodate disabled workers
Reasonable adjustments or accommodation for the disabled are not expensive. In fact, they can be accommodated easily and without any difficulty almost at zero cost. A Sears study (US) concluded that of 436 studied reasonable accommodations the company had provided from 1978 to 1992, three percent were valued at over a thousand dollars, 28 percent was less than a thousand dollars while 69 percent of the reasonable accommodations cost nothing.
Myth: I can’t be affected by mental illnesses
The fact is that mental illnesses are strangely common and have been found to have an effect on virtually every American family. This is one of those conditions that care less about your stand or creed; capable of affecting anyone. It really could be you.
Myth: Those with mental illnesses are unpredictable and violent
The largest number of those with mental illnesses is not violent than the average person. Chances are you know a person with mental illnesses, but have never seen them violent.
Myth: Reliability of disabled people is questionable
The truth is that while everyone else is moving about, disabled persons remain committed to their jobs and their attendance levels and loyalty are always very high.
Disabled people only do light, repetitive and simple jobs
Like everyone else a disabled person has all kinds of skills and talents to offer and differ from one person to another. It means if you can kick a football better than anyone else, a disabled person probably made it.
Myth: Disabled people are more prone to accidents at the workplace
A DuPont study in 1990 (US) found out that both the disabled and non-disabled had identical safety records.
Myth: Disabled people are a one-dimensional cluster
Some assumptions in the society assume disabled people are in a single one-dimensional cluster with the same opinions, interests and needs, yet they reflect a similar diversity that exists in every society in terms of education, family, culture, economy and socialisation.