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Attitudinal Barriers at Work

In our last article, we explored how attitudinal barriers, based on false beliefs about disability, limit people’s lives. In this article, we will discuss attitudinal barriers at work.

Attitudinal Barriers at Work

False assumptions about disability often involve the idea that people with disabilities cannot do most every-day tasks. People may then guess that, based on these perceived limits, someone with a disability must not be able to work. Alternatively, employers may believe various myths about workers with disabilities. As a result, an employer might choose not to hire someone with a disability because they believe that people with disabilities cannot work as well as non-disabled applicants.

For instance, an applicant who is deaf might request a Sign language interpreter for their interview. The employer might assume that this applicant would be unable to communicate with colleagues and would slow productivity. Therefore, the employer might choose not to hire the applicant. However, this applicant may have a strong work ethic, educational background, and well-honed skills that would make them an asset to the workplace. In addition, the applicant may quickly and easily work with colleagues through writing, emailing, or texting. This employer’s false beliefs about people with disabilities may cause them to lose the chance of hiring a valuable worker.

The Value of Time

Moreover, the idea that people with disabilities cannot work may also convince service providers that customers with disabilities’ time is less valuable than non-disabled customers’ time. For instance, specialized transportation companies may arrive at clients’ homes anywhere within a forty-five-minute timeframe. They may then schedule the trip so that the client stays in the vehicle for an hour. Companies may schedule this way because they believe that all their clients are travelling to social or fun events, so that their arrival time is not important. However, travellers with disabilities often have as many demands on their schedules as travellers without disabilities. The trip lasting an hour and forty-five minutes may make a client often late for their work. Consequently, employers may start to believe that their workers with disabilities do not care about being on time. This cycle creates more attitudinal barriers at work

Attitudinal barriers at work are harmful for workers with disabilities. However, they are equally harmful for employers and colleagues. When businesses hire applicants with disabilities, and provide needed accommodations, they gain employees with knowledge and willingness to work.