Friday, October 06, 2006

Stop Prejudice against the Disabled

Today I’m reporting on a sickening trend in America whereby people with verbal disabilities are openly being discriminated against, solely because they are dumb as rocks, have incomprehensible accents, stutter or suffer from Copralaia (a disability characterized by constant screaming & swearing at co-workers).

It’s sick that people with learning disabilities can still be the victims of discrimination. Here in America, The Americans with Disabilities Act protects any stupid person (learning disability, mental retardation) and a brain-damaged person cannot be barred from a high-paying job, especially in elected government positions.

Discrimination at the Help Desk

As computer software takes-on more complex problems, the fear of the general public also rises, and corporations are taking great lengths to provide top-notch help desk support.

I recently completed an article on help desk quality, and I was surprised to learn how important it is for help desk personnel to have outstanding English communications skills. While the Internet revolution has enabled many companies to outsource their help desk services overseas, many are finding that the help desk person's command of English is as important as their technical knowledge.

For example, Dell was flooded with complaints about staff that spoke with accents, and they were forced to move their help desk back to the United States:

“Newspapers located near Dell's Austin, Texas headquarters reported that customers were complaining not only about having their calls answered by technical support staff who spoke with accents”.

This article “Abroad and Back” notes that customers who hear noticeable accents from help desk personnel expect a bad experience, and they changed their hiring policies to require accent-neutral help desk support:

“"If customers called and heard an accent, they figured it would be a bad experience," Griffiths said”

But it's not just offshore help desk personnel. In the US, many help desk people are recruited from the dregs of society and some companies even use inmates from penitentiaries:

Today, most large corporations take great pains to ensure that anyone who speaks with the public is “accent neutral”. Help desks are now requiring accent-free voices, just like the Northwest Ohio accent that has been required for TV reporters for decades.

But the most disturbing trend is that people with verbal disabilities (stuttering, Tourette's) are excluded from working at help desks jobs:

As an advocate for the disabled (I volunteer helping to train guide horses for the blind), I was shocked to learn that it is OK to exclude people from jobs, solely based on the way they speak.

For example, victims of Tourette’s syndrome who exhibit Coprolalia (involuntary shouting of profanities) may be legally excluded from help desk jobs. It's just not right.

I think that the American with Disabilities Act should be broadened to allow disabled people to take-on any job they want. Help Desk customers will understand if their support person randomly screams profane words at them, and they would be impressed that the companies hires the disabled.

Another sad statement about American media is the new trend to openly mock the disabled.

Mocking the Disabled

Fans of South Park know that the show regularly mocks "Timmy" a retarded child, who can only babble and scream his name: "Timmaaay":

What's this world coming to? You can even buy a retard Timmy lunch box:

I also see a sick trend toward mocking the Blind, especially guide animals users:

It's time for companies to get smart and stop excluding people from help desk jobs simply because they cannot speak English, lack skills or are verbally impaired. It otta be against the law.