In this stuttering disability and employment section, we will examine employment options for people with this disorder. I often hear the following statement that does not make much sense to me. You can be anything you want to be in life. May be, your parents told you this. May be, it was some teacher in school. Personally, I do not think it is true.
Arguably, you can be what you want to be if you have a talent. In most cases, even having talent is not enough. Many jobs require one to possess certain education, experience and certain skills. Just saying that you have a talent on your resume will not get you anywhere. On the top, some people have disabilities to deal with. These disabilities might severely limit their job choices.
We also need to concern ourselves with our current job market. As you know, our job market is in extremely bad condition. We might like some profession. We know, however, that there are very few opportunities for us to enter this profession. Still going for it with this knowledge will be extremely risky, to say the least.
On the other hand, we should not go for various jobs that are easy to get, but we would hate doing. This will definitely lead to having an unhappy life.
Should your stuttering disability affect your employment choices?
Yes, it should. Many people, however, will tell you otherwise. Only a fool will not consider his own limitations. If a person cannot say even one single word without stuttering, it is highly unlikely that he will become an anchor on TV. Yes, exceptions do occur. However, you do not want to take your chance to be that exception.
Please note I do not discourage people from pursuing their interests. All I am saying is you always need to be realistic and practical in life. If you are short and simply not good at playing basketball, you cannot hope to become the next Michael Jordan. You cannot hope to become him even if you love playing basketball very much. I hope this discussion makes sense to you.
Should you tell your potential employer that you stutter during your interview?
I say you should not. Many people, however, will tell you otherwise. They will tell you that just mentioning that you stutter to your potential employer will help you to communicate more easily. You will know that your potential employer will be aware of your stuttering disability, and you will not have to hide it anymore. That much is true. However, it will not help you to land a job. Not all employers understand what stuttering is. A person who does not understand the nature of this problem can simply choose to stay away from you. If this person is your potential employer, you will not get hired. People generally do not like things they do not understand. We face job discrimination every day.
What are the laws that protect people who stutter?
The main act is called the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was enacted in 1990. However, the effects took place in middle nineties. It covers employees of medium-sized businesses (fifteen people or more). I will discuss it in more detail below. It is the best-known act that gives protection to people with disabilities. Another act is called the Rehabilitation Act. It was enacted in 1973. It is an older act that you seldom hear about in these days. It covers employees of federal agencies. It also gives protection to employees of any entity (public or private) that receives federal funds. If you work for a company that receives some federal grants or loans, for example, you are protected by this act. I will not talk about it much because there are some new acts and laws in place that deserve our attention.
Most states have enacted some laws that offer additional protection to people with disabilities. It is very burdensome to discuss these laws in detail because there are fifty states in the United States plus several territories in the Pacific region. You can go to your local law school library to read about these laws. It is safe to say, however, these state laws are very similar in language to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The main difference between state laws and federal laws is that state laws cover additional categories of employees that these federal laws do not cover. In another words, they encompass many more categories of employees than federal laws encompass.
What kind of protection my stuttering gets under our federal laws?
As I previously stated stuttering gets protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act. A person is considered to have a disability if his condition significantly limits a major life activity. Speaking is a major life activity. The question turns to assessing one's limitation on speaking. In another words, the severity of stuttering mainly determines if a person has a disability or not. If your stuttering is severe enough, then you are considered to be disabled. Thus, you get protection under our laws.
In a work setting, a person gets protection if he is qualified to perform his fundamental job duties. Communication might be considered a fundamental job duty in many positions. In many cases, one's stuttering is not severe enough to pose a serious problem for his job qualification.
Also, it needs to be pointed out that fundamental job duties are allowed to be performed with or without reasonable accommodations. Reasonable accommodations might include schedule modification and change in assignments.
As you understand now, the laws are somewhat confusing even when I tried to "simplify" them for you. I hope I shed some light on this topic. Nevertheless, it is important for you to understand that the reality is very different from what our laws state it should be. In real life, when you will get discriminated, you will never get an honest explanation from your potential employer why it has happened.
People who stutter face job discrimination every day. I was a victim of job discrimination after I graduated from college. I did not get hired despite my "right" qualifications for many jobs. I had seen people not getting promoted on a job just because the employer wrongfully believed that his employee who stutters cannot do well in his new capacity. What was the reason beyond this belief? As you might have guessed it, the reason was this person's stuttering problem.
As you are reading it, you are probably thinking of your own job discrimination experiences. It is very hard to use federal laws to get any kind of protection. As I stated above, the reality is different from what you can read in our federal law books.
What are ideal jobs for you if you stutter?
Ideal jobs are those that you will like doing and can provide the most job security to you. Ideal jobs are also those that have the least impact on your stuttering disability. Defining an ideal job can only be done subjectively. For some people, it can mean becoming a police officer, a doctor or an accountant. However, you should take into consideration my definition of ideal employment if you want to be successful in life. Simply ignoring stuttering disability, job security or your specific interest can lead to a huge disaster when it comes to employment.
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