Could political correctness be damaging the employment chances of people it is designed to help? That’s the intriguing question thrown up by responses to a survey by Remploy.
For while four out of five of Britain’s employers believe they should make every effort to employ disabled people, many are put off by politically correct ‘language of disability’.
Employers, who were interviewed in focus groups, told researchers that there was a misunderstanding regarding the language used to describe disability, particularly around the desire to be politically correct and not to cause offence.
And the issue is serious enough to be a barrier to employing disabled people. One employer told researchers: “The ballpark is always moving as are the words that I can say. You don’t say that someone is blind, you say visually impaired.”
Researchers also found that one of the main reasons given by businesses for not employing more people with disabilities was that disabled people did not apply for jobs.
There was widespread agreement that disabled people are capable of performing most jobs although a few areas, such as construction and the fire service, were not thought suitable.
Beth Carruthers, Remploy’s director of employment services, said: “The survey shows very clearly that employers recognise the talents and skills disabled people can bring to the workplace.
“But we need to overcome the concerns voiced by some employers. The important thing is not the language used to describe disability but that disabled people receive the same respect and opportunities as non-disabled people.
“The research also shows how disabled people can benefit from job coaching and assistance with writing CVs and interviews.”