Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Hiring People with Disabilities is Expensive: Myth Busted

Filed under: Living with a disability,Work — by at 1:59 pm on Monday, October 22, 2007

A pile of cash
(Photo credit: Stephen Hyun)

In the United States, October is National Disability Employment Month: a month devoted to increasing public awareness of the contributions and skills of employees with disabilities. In this day of labour shortages in various sectors, unemployment of people with disabilities still remains high at approximately 45%, according to the Office of Disability Employment Policy. The unemployment rate of Canadians with disabilities is equally as high.

People with disabilities face many false stereotypes and myths when searching for employment. One such myth is accommodating a person with a disability in the workplace is expensive. With this in mind, I would like to share the special equipment and technology that I use during my work day (many of which I demonstrate using in my video):

  • A standard keyboard without additional keys above the function keys so that I can glide my hand along the top to steady my hand while typing. (Keyboards without the additional multimedia and internet keys are becoming harder to find.)
    (Cost $20)
  • An Esterline Joystick gives me greater control than with a mouse. (Cost $600)
  • Words+ EZ Keys software for word prediction and completion to save me a bit of typing. (Cost $695)
  • TextAloud softwarefor proofreading my writing and for converting text into mp3 audio files when I give presentations. (Cost $30)
  • NeoSpeech’s Kate is my voice. (Cost $35)
  • Skype provides me with another means of communication. I can use either the text chat while the other speaks or texts, or I can use my webcam while speaking (people understand Glenda-ish better when they can see me speak) and then I use the text feature when we get stuck on a word or two. (free when chatting with other Skype users)
  • The total cost of the extra technology I use is approximately $1380. Putting this into perspective, is this amount any more than signing bonuses or car allowances offered to other potential employees?

    According to the Job Accommodation Network, the average cost to accommodate an employee with a disability is $500. (I’m above average!) Some funding and tax incentives are available to cover these costs.

    Myth: It is expensive to accommodate people with disabilities in the workplace. BUSTED!

    If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Comment by Darrell

October 22, 2007 @ 4:21 pm


Well said! The costs are small when compared to the return, not only in the work force but personal and social areas of a persons life.

The investment will pay off several times over.


Comment by Donna Seale

October 28, 2007 @ 8:01 pm

Terrific post, Glenda. You not only cite interesting statistical information from the Job Accommodation Network, but show from a personal perspective just how inexpensive workplace accommodations can be.

In my work as a human rights lawyer and consultant (in Canada), I always try to put the true costs of workplace acommodations into perspective for the people who attend my training courses. The Canadian perspective on cost is similar to your experience in the US. For example, the Ontario Human Rights Commission conducted a study in 2002 where it was shown that over 2/3 of job accommodations in cases the Commission handled cost under $500. Where I live and work, in Manitoba, the Manitoba Human Rights Commission’s experience is very much the same. In reality, the true “cost” of accommodation most often amounts to the time involved in understanding the disabled employee’s needs, to assess and analyze their job situation and conceive of an accommodation. Thanks for contributing to debunking the cost myth!

Donna Seale

Comment by Glenda

October 29, 2007 @ 12:32 pm

Hi Donna,

Thanks for stopping by my blog. With such labour shortages in some sectors here in Canada and employers doing almost anything to entice potential employees, it is frustrating that the perceived cost of accommodating employees with disabilties is still a barrier. It still comes down to awareness and acceptance.

Comment by Ron Starc

July 18, 2014 @ 5:04 am

The Kate voice may not work for everyone. The current best text to speech software is Text Speaker. It has customizable pronunciation, reads anything on your screen, and it even has talking reminders. The bundled voices are well priced and sound very human. There is a good selection of voices, so you can find the one that is your own.

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