Would you hire Stephen Hawking for a job in physics?
In my previous assignments in security I assisted in handling the HR duties for Wells Fargo Guard Services, now Securitas, Allied Security, Inc., now allied-Barton Security, and First Response, Inc., in Mission Kansas. I can guarantee you that hiring someone that is disabled is not that big of a deal. I know because I’ve done it.
I will tell you, especially in my case being blind, that we may not be able to do some jobs as fast as a non-disabled employee, but it can, and will be, accomplished. We just have to take pains to do it our way. And doing it our way may not necessarily be the standard way, or by the corporate line, but as long as it is done on time and is right…
It is obvious that a blind or deaf person can’t stand post. And if they are needed to greet visitors… On the other hand, would a blind or deaf officer be adept at a place that offers blind or deaf services? Of course they would, and they would probably be better than a normal officer.
Likewise, people that are confined to wheelchairs or using a walker are not able to walk effectively, are not suited to being on an assignment that requires a lot of walking, especially if it’s outside the building on uneven pavement or gravel. Nor one that requires them to move quickly and evacuate the facility.
However, those of us that are disabled can contribute to the safety & security of a company or client employees. Now you’re wondering ‘how can a disabled individual contribute to any company’s safety & security? Especially in an industry that is so visually, auditory, and shoe leather oriented?
The question is simple at this point. Do you have any jobs within your company that can be done safely by someone who is disabled? Do you take pains to ensure that you assign the right officer to the right post? Look at the jobs you have and then answer that honestly. Here is a partial list of those jobs that can be effectively completed by someone who is disabled, everything else being equal;
- Access control points checking ID badges & signing them in/out
- Dispatch/control centers
- Training other security officers
- Writing reports, post orders, policies, procedures, & etc.
- Consulting, providing they have the knowledge
- Administration, completing the mountains of paperwork including the filing
- Customer Service
- Front Desk receptionist at a client/company site
Misconceptions among Employers:
- You either give us our accommodations or we’ll sue you for discrimination!
- We’ll sue you for not getting the equipment we need to work quickly enough.
- We cost too much money to hire you for your equipment. There are programs that assist in paying for accommodations
- We’re too sensitive about our disability to discuss it, without complaining
- We’ll cause too many problems once we’re hired
Is this saying that there aren’t people out there who do want to sue the company if you don’t spit on the griddle? Of course there are. And the same holds true for the other misconceptions above. But HR should be able to weed them out with appropriate interviewing techniques.
What we expect from an employer:
- Computer programs that allow us to read, write, & correct documents i.e. JAWS for the blind
- Keep aisles clear of boxes and other impediments
- Don’t allow items to ‘hang’ off your desk that can be easily knocked off
- Close the filing cabinets above waist level, away from our canes
- If you borrow something off my desk, put it back in the same place
- Let me know if your hands or arms are full when I’m coming to you
- If you want to shake my hand, tell me yours is extended
- Just plain ol’ common courtesy and professionalism in the office
The way to treat us while working:
The exact same way you treat any other employee. By making exceptions and catering to or avoiding us, it draws attention to our disability. And we just want to blend in with other employees, ‘no special handling required’, and make the company effective, efficient, innovative, & profitable.
If we need help, we’ll ask. If we need something, we’ll ask. And we won’t be rude, surly, cop an attitude, yell, scream, or anything like that if we don’t get our way. Will we get angry and frustrated at times? Of course we will the same as anyone else does. And then, like any other employee, we just need to calm down.
So as we move further into the 21st century, let’s throw out the misconceptions and discrimination. Look at what we can accomplish to enhance the safety and security of the company, its employees, and clients. If you don’t, you may lose out on a wealth of innovation, knowledge, skill, & experience.
If a severely crippled man, with a permanent hyena like smile on his face, in a motorized wheelchair came into your laboratory and applied for a physics job, would you even interview them? If you didn’t know that person was Stephen Hawking probably not, but knowing who he was you’d welcome him into the company with open arms. So why turn a disabled person away just because you don’t know their knowledge, experience, & skills?
Robert D. Sollars has been blind since 2003, 6 weeks after moving to the Phoenix area. However he is still a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 32 years in the security field. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many. Here you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.
I may be blind but my vision is crystal clear!