Did you know that you are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed if you have a disability? RespectAbility, an advocacy group for those with disabilities, reported that in 2015 the unemployment rate for people with disabilities was 10.1% while those without disabilities was about half that at 5.1%.
CORD, the Cape Organization for Rights of the Disabled, has worked tirelessly for people with disabilities on Cape Cod and the Islands since 1984 and is trying to improve the situation.
“People may wonder why there is such a strong reaction when someone with a disability is discriminated against. It’s because the history of the treatment of people with disabilities in the country is very scary,” said Cathy Taylor, Director of Services at CORD, “There were actually “ugly” laws in the past that said if you were maimed or disfigured you weren’t allowed to be in public.”
CORD has been breaking down stereotypes and giving assistance both to those with disabilities and to members of the public who want to understand the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), mainly to employers. They offer absolutely FREE sessions to businesses who want to have a better understanding of how to interact with people with disabilities and what’s required when hiring someone with a disability.
“We’ve been doing a lot of one-on-ones with business owners and hiring managers as well as group sessions,” said Taylor, “It’s a safe space to discuss any misconception or question you might have such as what words to use or not use, how to act around people with disabilities, and language.”
Language is a major issue when it comes to communication. First, some people’s disabilities cause difficulty with communication. But everyday language can also be hurtful. “People don’t realize there are sayings that are used that can be quite damaging such as ‘you’re crazy.’ We don’t want people to be afraid to say anything so we tell people to just apologize and move on. Language can empower or it can hurt,” said Taylor.
The sessions are tailored to each individual business and the situations that might arise as part of the services, location, or building of the business. Employers leave feel much more confident in not only the rights of employees with disabilities but also their rights as business owners.
“We cover quite a bit in the sessions on reasonable accommodations. Most employers are surprised to learn that they have rights in terms of the amount of accommodations they are required to provide when hiring an employee with a disability,” said Taylor.