Would we elect FDR as President now?
Would you vote for a presidential candidate who couldn’t walk, had to lean on someone to stand, had little stamina, and who smoked? There is little chance of FDR being elected President today. The question is would any business hire hymn in the times we work in? I venture to say no, a company wouldn’t take the liability risk on him.
The next question then becomes, should you even consider, and take the liability risk, of hiring a disabled person for security? Why shouldn’t you? A disabled person may not be able to move or work as fast as other officers, but if you do your due diligence, again, it’s not that big of an issue. 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 ideal corporate practice.
It is fairly 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.
Just like individuals that are confined to wheelchairs, using a walker or are not able to walk effectively, are not suited to being on an assignment that requires a lot of walking. This is especially true if it’s outside the building on uneven pavement or gravel. Nor a job that requires them to move quickly and evacuate the facility during an emergency.
How can a disabled individual contribute to anyone’s safety & security? Especially in an industry that is so visually, auditory, and shoe leather oriented? The answer is simple. 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.
Misconceptions about disabled employees:
- You either give us our accommodations or we’ll sue you for discrimination!
- We’ll sue you for not getting the equipment we need quickly enough.
- Equipment costs too much to hire you. (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 are 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, as with people with no disability. And the same holds true for the other issues I mentioned above. But HR should be able to weed them out utilizing appropriate interviewing and background techniques.
What do we expect from an employer?
- Computer, and other, programs that allow us to read, write, & correct documents
- Keep aisles clear of items that will impede walking or rolling
- Close the drawers on filing cabinets so they are not standing open in an aisle
- Don’t allow items to hang off your desk, papers, boxes, and etc., that can be easily knocked off
- If you borrow something off of our desk, put it back in the same place, and please tell us you are doing so
- 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
- Don’t be afraid to make jokes about disabilities unless you know for a fact it would offend us (I make as many blind jokes as anyone)
The way to treat us while working:
We want to be treated…the exact same way you treat any other employee. By making unnecessary exceptions it can be embarrassing for us, we just want to blend in. We want to 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 just because we don’t get our way. Will we get angry and frustrated at times? Of course we will the same as any other employee does.
As we move further into the 21st century, let’s throw out the misconceptions about those of us that are disabled. Look at what we can accomplish, not what we can’t. What can we do 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 walked into your business, needed help to walk & stand, smelled like cigarettes, and applied for a job, would you even interview them? If you didn’t know that person was FDR 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 see their disability and don’t know their knowledge, experience, & skills?
Robert D. Sollars, who has been blind since 2003, is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 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