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'Fear of the Unknown' Invisible Barrier to Employment, Says Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities;

Foundation Releases Seven Fears vs. Realities

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 - The invisible ``fear of the unknown'' can be the biggest barrier to employing people with disabilities, according to the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities, which today released its list of seven ``Fears vs. Realities About Employing People with Disabilities.'' The Foundation issued the list to mark October's designation as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

The Marriott Foundation developed the list after interviewing employers and co-workers of young people with disabilities who participate in the Foundation's ``Bridges...from school to work'' program. ``Bridges...from school to work'' fosters the employment of young people with disabilities by facilitating paid internships for students with disabilities who are in their final year of high school. Since the program's creation in 1989, Bridges has placed more than 2,700 students in paid internships with over 900 employers. Eighty-seven percent of the students completing the program have received offers of continued employment.

``Finding meaningful employment can be hard enough for young people, not to mention young people with disabilities,'' said Richard E. Marriott, chairman of the Marriott Foundation. ``By working with school districts and employers, the Foundation's Bridges program is helping these young people and their employers break through the 'fear' barrier and think in terms of 'ability' versus 'disability.'''

Seven fears vs. realities of employing people with disabilities:



People with disabilities need expensive accommodations Often, no accommodation is needed. When necessary, most accommodations cost very little or nothing at all.
I'll have to do more work. Not true, especially when the abilities and skills of the individual are matched with the needs of the job. More effective matching up front will make disabilities largely irrelevant.
I'll have to supervise more. Most employees with disabilities do their jobs as well as, or better than, other employees in similar jobs, and often seem more motivated and dependable.
Turnover and absenteeism will be high. Studies show that employees with disabilities rate average to above average on attendance.
People with disabilities may not be able to do the job. Because people with disabilities often have to work harder to get the job they want and, therefore, appreciate what having a job means, they typically perform up to and beyond expectations. The key is effectively matching skills to job needs, focusing on ability.
People with disabilities need preferential treatment. People with disabilities neither require or want to be treated any differently than employees without disabilities. What people with disabilities do need is an equal opportunity.
Will people with disabilities fit in? As part of a diverse workforce, employees with disabilities often bring unique life experiences which can be a shot in the arm for the entire workplace. Their perspectives on, and approach to their jobs can be contagious, creating a positive ripple effect.

The Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities was established in 1989 by the family of J. Willard Marriott, founder of Marriott Corporation, to foster the employment of young people with disabilities. The Foundation's program, ``Bridges...from school to work'' leads young people down the path to meaningful employment by developing paid internships with local employers for students with disabilities who are in their final year of high school.

In 1945, decades before the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Congress designated the first week in October of each year as ``National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.'' In 1962, the word ``physically'' was removed to recognize the employment needs of all persons with disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed its name to ``National Disability Employment Awareness Month.''

Source: Marriott Foundation

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