Mar 8, 2023 | General Interest

Understanding Ability vs Disability


Last week, we introduced ourselves and discussed in detail what working with Candor Disability Group looks like. This week, we would like to dive into the topic of understanding ability versus disability, and why knowing the difference is important.  

When we use certain terms, there are often preconceived notions or stereotypes which go along with them. Unfortunately, lack of understanding can perpetuate these beliefs, and this is something we hope to see end one day soon.   

The term disability refers to the challenges one faces. A person’s ability refers to the way in which someone can perform well at something. Each person has unique abilities, and this allows for a diverse workplace as everyone brings a unique set of skills to various situations.   

While there may be some limitations associated with a person’s disability, this does not mean they can’t perform tasks or successfully do a job. Rather, this means they will be faced with certain challenges along the way. Providing support, resources, and understanding can help people overcome these obstacles. This is why, at Candor Disability Group, we strive to focus on what people can do, and not on what they cannot do.  

How can a disability impact a WCB claim?  

Many employers will focus on the acceptable injury for an employee on a WCB claim, such as a back sprain or finger laceration, and offer modified duties based on only that injury.  This method focuses on disability – that is, what the employee cannot do due to their injury – rather than the employee’s abilities.  A common example is sedentary duties such as office work, manuals or inventory – this work may be physically suitable but is it within your employee’s abilities?  Have you considered any barriers that are going to prevent success, such as mental health concerns, inability to focus on small and/or new tasks (ADHD for example) or chronic health conditions? 

Depending on the situation, and nature of the injury or illness, each WCB claim will differ. No case is the same, and what works for one, doesn’t mean it will work for another.  Our team, and our vast knowledge of the system, can help employers understand the inner workings, while dealing with claims on your behalf.  

Benefits of focusing on ability  

A positive mindset and understanding of each individual is very important. We have all been in a situation where we feel inadequate or have battled with not being able to successfully do something while others do it with ease. This is why it is crucial to focus on a person’s abilities.  

Some benefits include:  

  1. Confidence: helps people feel more capable in what they can accomplish and boosts self-esteem.  
  1. Independence: gives people the support they need to not rely on others and complete tasks on their own.  
  1. Inclusion: creates an environment where people know they are valued and appreciated.  
  1. Relationships: focusing on what people can do builds stronger relationships, both personally and professionally.  

The words we choose are extremely impactful. Language has the power to be both empowering and disempowering. Therefore, it is important to understand that the word disability does not mean less than. It means reframing our thinking and seeing the individual for all that they are, and the value they bring.

Learn more on this topic

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