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Information About Disabilities

Understanding Types of Disabilities

A person with disabilities may be defined as one with a physical, sensory, intellectual, and/or learning impairment that has a significant and long-term impact on one’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. This includes:

  • Hearing
  • Seeing
  • Speaking
  • Mobility
  • Physical coordination
  • Continence
  • Ability to lift and move everyday objects
  • Memory or the ability to learn, focus, or understand
  • Awareness of danger to self
  • Progressive conditions such as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, etc.

How to Work with Disabled Colleagues

  • Be sensitive and avoid asking questions about a disability unless the person initiates to do so.
  • Be polite and patient when offering assistance and wait for the acceptance of the offer to help. It is alright if the person does not need assistance if the person is deemed capable to be independent.
  • Relax if some mistakes caused the person to be embarrassed. Just keep the communication open with the person.
  • Shake hands even if the person has limited use of his or her hands. Give a smile and a greeting if the person is unable to shake hands with you.
  • Do not talk down or patronize colleagues with disability. Treat them just as you treat other colleagues.
  • Do not pretend to understand what the person is saying if you really do not. Request the person to repeat or to rephrase what they said.

Disability Myths

Myth: People with disabilities are incapable of fully participating in everyday life.
Fact: People with disabilities have the potential to participate fully in everyday life. More often, what ‘disable’ them are the attitudes of society in general and the environment in which they live and work.
Myth: Disability, like diseases, can be contagious.
Fact: Disability is not like a transmittable disease that can infect others who come into contact with a person with disability.
Myth: People with disabilities are dependent on others.
Fact: Some of them may need assistance because of inadequately designed environment. However, most are able to be independent or strive to be independent.
Myth: It is better for people with disabilities to stay at their home instead of working.
Fact: Most people with disabilities yearn to be employed, earn a decent living for themselves, and to have the opportunity to integrate with mainstream society just like any able-bodied people. Both tangible and intangible benefits of some form of work outweigh the costs of staying at home.
Myth: People with disabilities are unable to have relationships.
Fact: Many of them make choices about marriage, long-term relationships, and having children.
Myth: Employees with disabilities have a higher rate of absenteeism than employees without disabilities.
Fact: Studies have shown that employees with disabilities do not have a higher absenteeism rate than their counterparts without disabilities.
Myth: People with disabilities need to be protected from failing.
Fact: They have a right to fully participate in everyday life including successes and failures. Employers should have the same expectations of them as they should have with abled employees.
Myth: Transportation is a problem for disabled people to get to work.
Fact: People with disabilities are capable of selecting their appropriate mode of transportation such as taking the MRT, or a taxi. There are also schemes in place to facilitate their usage of public transport.
Myth: The costs of hiring a person with disabilities are substantial.
Fact: Apart from the usual terms and conditions of employment, the cost of hiring a person with disabilities is low given that there is a national fund that helps employers who are keen to offer employment opportunities to them.