Disability in the Workplace

Background of the study

Workplace disability refers to a situation where an employee sustains physical or mental impairment. This state of affairs substantially limits performance of some activities. Both domestic and international human rights bodies have variously addressed the matter in favor of incapacitated employees. Many governments around the world have also enacted laws to address discrimination of disabled employees.

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Numerous organizations have remained in the forefront to ensure equality and inclusion of disabled employees to keep them engaged in work. However, there is a need to heighten their participation through promotion of positive interactions. Communicating with disabled employees is crucial for accomplishment of organizational goals. This proposal provides an insight into disability in the workplace with a view of examining various approaches that can be used to improve performance.


According to the ILO (2010), individuals with disability encounter many challenges in the workplace. Their state limits them from acquiring suitable employment opportunities. However, some organizations have developed profiles that offer equal job choices for qualified individuals regardless of their state of wholeness or partial disability. Nonetheless, other organizations are reluctant in employing people with disabilities (Burkhauser, Schmeiser, & Weathers II, 2012). Discrimination that is based on the physical state of an individual is a common challenge that affects disabled people in work environments.

Various laws protect the rights of the disabled people. For instance, some organizations have developed strategies of accommodating incapacitated individuals in their workforce to nurture their talents. Employment practices such as hiring, placement, and promotion should cater for all employees in the workforce regardless of their physical, mental, and/or intellectual impairment. In addition, they should develop positive interactions in the workplace.

Objectives of the proposal

The purpose of this study is to evaluate organizational practices that are applied to protect people with disability in the workplace. The study will also seek to determine different ways in which organizations can promote successful work outputs amongst the disabled employees. Finally, the study will focus on different measures that can be established to protect the rights of the disabled in the workplace.

Research Questions

  1. How do organizations perceive disabled employees?
  2. What methods can be used to promote successful work outputs amongst the disabled workforce?
  3. What are the measures taken by governments and human rights bodies to protect disabled people?

Importance of the Research

This research will analyze different ways in which organizations perceive the issue of disability in the workplace. It will also highlight the measures taken by the organizations to handle individuals with disabilities. In addition, it seeks to establish various ways in which disabled individuals are protected in the workplace. Furthermore, the study will focus on effective interaction amongst individuals with disability and fellow employees. The research will be relevant to private employers, employment agencies, state and local governments, labor organizations, and labor-management committees.


Data will be obtained using questionnaires, behavioral observation, and interviews. Questionnaires will be distributed to different organizations to gauge their views on disability in the workplace. Observation will involve monitoring of certain behavioral patterns of the disabled employees.

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The research methods will cover interaction of the disabled workforce with customers, fellow employees, and management. A review of the organization’s profile will also provide substantial information on the organizational practices concerning disability handling. Oral interviews will also be used to evaluate how the employees relate with their fellow disabled colleagues.

Literature Review

Organizations have different stands on the issue of disability in the workplace. Many governments have created laws that protect the rights of the disabled in the workplace. For instance, the United States amended its constitution in 1990 in a bid to protect the disabled population in the workplace. Other human rights bodies have also stepped forward to agitate for fair treatment of the disabled employees (Burkhauser, Schmeiser, & Weathers II, 2012). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014), approximately 18-percent of incapacitated individuals had secured employment opportunities in 2013.

However, the employment-population ratio of the persons with disability was lower than the one for normal employees. The ILO research was conducted on 25 companies to evaluate their practices towards the disabled employees. Many profiles of these companies showed that the disabled employees were represented in the workforce. Most of the companies had developed programs that were meant for accommodating the disabled workforce (ILO, 2010).

Disability discrimination is an issue that has been addressed variously by governments, labor organizations, and human rights bodies. Several federal laws such as the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) have been enacted to protect incapacitated individuals against workplace discrimination.

This Act prohibits discrimination of eligible disabled people by labor agencies, private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor-management committees (Burkhauser, Schmeiser, & Weathers II, 2012). In addition, the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination of people with disabilities in federal programs and employment environments.

According to the ILO (2010), a qualified person with disability is deemed able to perform essential functions or duties of a job with or without reasonable accommodation. However, the person must meet the required criteria requirements such as education, skills, experience, and licenses. The International Labor Organization describes reasonable accommodation as adjustments that are made by employers to enable disabled people to enjoy the same opportunities as other employees. Reasonable accommodation improves the working conditions for the incapacitated.

It promotes successful work output by the disabled workforce. In addition, reasonable accommodation ensures that the value of the disabled individuals is maximized. However, it should not bring undue hardship to the organization. Burkhauser, Schmeiser, and Weathers II (2012) posit that workplace accommodation should not result in additional expenses and responsibilities to the organization.

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Effective interaction is vital in promoting a non-discriminatory environment. It improves communication by ensuring proper use of language techniques. According to Kulkarni and Lengnick-Hall (2011), speaking or writing to disabled people is paramount to effective interaction. The first step in ensuring effective communication with the incapacitated individual is focusing on the person rather than the disability. Harder and Geisen (2011) reveal that positive language empowers employees; hence, use of dignified words reflects equality and individuality during communication.

A notable example is the use of positive phrases. The phrase “bound or restricted by a wheelchair” is negative; hence, it is undignified. Instead of such a phrase, it is proper to say, “Uses a wheel chair”. Similarly, “Visually impaired” can be used to refer to the blind. Use of positive phrases promotes effective interaction amongst employees in the workplace (Von Schrader, Malzer, & Bruyere, 2014).


The need to promote equality and successful work output amongst the disabled employees has led to enactment of laws defend their rights. In addition, some organizations have developed polices that bar disability discrimination in the workplace. However, some organizations are still reluctant in addressing such issues. As a result, they have failed to establish proper stipulations of accommodating the disabled employees. Respect and courtesy are the driving factors for effective communication; hence, it should be used when interacting with persons with disabilities in the workplace.

Reference List

Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2014). Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary. Web.

Burkhauser, R., Schmeiser, M., & Weathers II, R. (2012). The Importance of Anti-Discrimination and Workers’ Compensation Laws On The Provision Of Workplace Accommodations Following The Onset Of A Disability. Industrial & Labor Relations Review, 65(1), 161-80.

Harder, H., & Geisen, T. (2011). Disability Management and Workplace Integration: International Research Findings. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.

ILO. (2010). Disability in the Workplace: Company Practices. Web.

Kulkarni, M., & Lengnick-Hall, M. (2011). Socialization of people with disabilities in the workplace. Human Resource Management, 50(4), 521-40.

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Von Schrader, S., Malzer, V., & Bruyere, S. (2014). Perspectives on Disability Disclosure: The Importance of Employer Practices and Workplace Climate. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 4(1), 237.

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