There are times when one simply serves as an observer, and times when you are both a participating observer, this is definitely one of those times. I was invited to speak at the Remarkable Tech Summit in San Francisco last week to discuss building the booming disability economy. This invitation-only event was sponsored by Remarkable, an Australian start-up tech accelerator made possible by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance. The event was a convergence of entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, nonprofits, and other thought leaders who see a new horizon in technology for people with disabilities.
As a participant observer I assumed it was something even bigger, this convergence was the beginning of forming a new language of disability that reveals the beauty and value of why disability is necessary for the future of society. It wasn’t just about showcasing innovative technology or acknowledging that impact investors need to pay attention to this growing market, rather it was the very idea that the disability community is at the forefront of innovation to understand what is needed for a society of the future. blossom.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still elements of ableism and various stigmas around disability that continue to proliferate in the mainstream, but this moment has opened a new path to the future that has embraced disability as a mechanism for seeing the potential of what can be. The disability community offers society greater recognition and a need to understand human variability. It is through this very idea of human variability that one gains a greater awareness of empathy and creates a whole new language where entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and others can find a common language to see this growth as imperative for future well-being. being of our civilization.
What the Remarkable Tech Summit did was offer another dimension to the very notion of the burgeoning disability economy. They showed that the poetry and prose of this economy is not limited to big ideas, innovative technologies or even the potential of capital markets, but the idea that the congregation of the impact of this community can profoundly affect society and may have a wider appeal than one can imagine.
Remarkable Tech’s value as an accelerator is not only to guide the innovative technologies of entrepreneurs with disabilities, but to amplify the notion that the economy of disability is an economy of need. As we begin to think about the need for diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility as central not only to the business landscape but also to societal growth, it is imperative that we engage organizations like Remarkable Tech to help lead the charge to help envision a future where problem-solving and solution-focused approaches are fundamental. It’s part of the disability community’s secret sauce and must become an essential tool in the quiver of corporate leadership.
At the Remarkable Tech Summit, Enable Ventures founder and managing partner Gina Kline said it best when she borrowed a line from the musical Hamilton sharing with the audience, that we’re all “in the room where it happened”, which means a seismic shift in the evolution of the disability economy, that we are no longer in a place where the largest minority in the world needs to be in a space of pity, but rather pivoting to a position of power. Although it continues to take time, we are starting to see it happen. The mere fact that in this very room there has been a meeting of different segments of the disability economy from entrepreneurs to investors only builds the idea that the seed has been planted and will continue to grow.
The Remarkable Tech Summit is an example of how the new language of disability continues to evolve. It offers those on the periphery an appreciation for true poetry and prose that will help define and engage the intersection of disability and human variability and its inherent value for years to come.