Answers for Employers

Download a PDF of the brochure Answers for Employers.

ADA and Stuttering

Stuttering:
Answers for Employers

Introduction

The Stuttering Foundation of America receives many requests each year from managers, human resources professionals, and business owners for more information about stuttering. We assembled this guide to answer some common questions about stuttering and to provide additional resources for people who stutter and their colleagues in the workplace.

Basic Facts

Over three million Americans stutter more than one adult in a hundred. Stuttering affects 3 to 4 times as many men as women.

  • There is a very good chance that your organization employs or will employ people who stutter.
  • Stuttering is a chronic communication disorder that interferes with a person's ability to speak fluently. While the cause of stuttering is not known, there is evidence that the disorder has strong genetic and neurological components.
  • People who stutter have performed successfully in the widest range of occupations from teacher to medical doctor and from public relations executive to salesperson.
  • Many men and women who stutter have gone on to have highly successful careers in their chosen fields.

Eliminating Stereotypes About Stuttering

  • People who stutter are as intelligent and well-adjusted as non-stutterers.
  • Don't assume that people who stutter are prone to be nervous, anxious, fearful, or shy. While stuttering behaviors may sometimes resemble the behaviors of non-stutterers who experience these emotions, people who stutter exhibit the same full range of personality traits as those who do not.
  • Stuttering is not the result of emotional conflict or fearfulness.
  • People who stutter often have excellent communications skills. They should not be seen as deficient at verbal communication. Some people who stutter are very often qualified for and interested in positions requiring them to deal with members of the public on a daily basis.
  • People who stutter have the same ambitions and goals for advancement as non-stutterers. To an extent consistent with their abilities, they should be offered leadership opportunities and paths for promotion within an organization.
  • Stuttering varies widely in different people and varies in the same person over different times and places. People who stutter often have "good" and "bad" days with their speech.
  • For people who stutter, a job interview is perhaps the single most difficult speaking situation they will ever encounter and is not indicative of how they would speak on the job. It is important to consider the actual job requirements and conditions before ruling out  candidate for employment because of his speech impediment.
  • Some people who stutter less severely may not acknowledge their condition publicly for fear of losing their jobs or being denied promotions. By feeling forced to keep their condition a secret, they place themselves under enormous stress. This can impact their own job performance as well as that of their colleagues.

People Who Stutter On The Job:  Helpful Strategies

  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) can be very helpful by maintaining information on stuttering so that employees with questions for themselves and their children can be referred to the appropriate professionals.
  • The best way to approach an employee's stuttering is through honest communication. By refraining from making assumptions about the person's job-related abilities and skills, both the employee and employer can effectively achieve their goals.

Responsibilities of People Who Stutter

  • The SFA encourages people who stutter to take an active approach towards their stuttering. This includes professional therapy as as well as self- therapy. The SFA offers a referral list of specialists in stuttering and information to help people obtain insurance coverage; it also has effective self-therapy materials.
  • People who stutter should be honest and open with their employers about their speaking abilities and the areas in which they feel they can perform effectively. They should be willing to discuss how their disability might impact particular areas of their job performance, and what might be done to accommodate their disability.

Questions and Answers

Who can I contact to get more information on stuttering?

The Stuttering Foundation of America maintains a toll-free Hotline on Stuttering 1-800-992-9392. Call for free informative brochures and a nationwide resource list of speech-language pathologists who specialize in stuttering or visit the Web site at www.stutteringHELP.org.

Understanding stuttering can be a part of an employer's ongoing efforts to make the workplace more user-friendly for all people. Greater understanding of speech handicaps provides benefits both for the organization and all the people who work there.