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From: Beth Bienvenu
Date: 21 Oct 2006
Time: 09:21:59 -0500
Remote Name: 220.127.116.11
This is a good question. Employers have a lot of fears when it comes to hiring people with disabilities (PWD). A 2003 study done at Rutgers (see reference below) found that employers fear several things when hiring PWD (which may or may not apply to stuttering): 1) they fear that the person cannot do the work (they can’t physically do the lifting, can’t stand at a cash register, can’t see well enough to read documents, can’t give presentations) 2) they fear the costs associated with accommodating a PWD (providing equipment or adapting work stations to allow a person with a disability to do the job); 3) they are concerned about legal entanglements – for example, a PWD may be fired because of things not related to his or her disability, but decides to sue the company, claiming disability discrimination under the ADA. So there are a lot of fears, most of which are unfounded when looking at the realities (e.g., employers may fear that PWD cannot do the job, but once a person is accommodated most employers find that they can usually do the job very well; also recent data shows that the typical one-time cost of a job accommodation is only $600, and almost half of all accommodations are free). SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR STUTTERING? Employers probably most fear the first point – that we cannot do the speaking parts of the job (presentations, answering phones, talking with clients). This comes down to education. Once an employer has a good understanding of what stuttering is – that it doesn’t mean that we’re nervous or anxious, or that we don’t know what we’re trying to say – they can more effectively evaluate our qualifications. If we go into a job interview with confidence, with the mindset that our stuttering ISN’T a communication barrier (for a good set of tips, see the article by Chris Roach in the 2004 ISAD conference entitled “The dreaded job interview: Secret tips from the inside – for stutterers!”), and if we can provide some good references (such as the National Stuttering Association’s Employer Handbook http://www.nsastutter.org/subcat/index.php?subid=212 then we can go a long way toward alleviating employer concerns and fears. I hope this answers your question. Thanks for posting! K.A. Dixon, Doug Kruse, Ph.D. and Carl E. Van Horn, Ph.D, Work Trends – Restricted Access: A Survey of Employers About People with Disabilities and Lowering Barriers to Work, John J. Hedrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, March 2003.