Witnessing A New Relationship For Business And Disability


Since the next sequence of Mindset Matters columns will emphasize the developing relationship between business and disability rather than employment-related issues it is important to acknowledge a critical detail, the fact that there are moments when the connection between disability and business can be seen as if there are on two divergent paths when in reality embracing the lived experience of disability must be a key driver for the future of business innovation and developing a competitive advantage for long term growth. While employment issues are often a central narrative, rethinking the relationship between business and disability must begin to be amplified even more. 

To begin to dig into this further it is important to think about the notion that the lived experience of disability has a direct connection to many of the business trends of the day.  By looking at some of the key industries for startup’s we can begin to get a better picture of where these relationships can grow, but even more importantly why cultivating these relationships make good business sense. Whether it be industries such as EdTech, Healthcare to Leisure and Entertainment it is critical to show the appeal of the disability experience to build a solid foundation for growth.

As digital technology is changing the way we learn, EdTech is becoming one of the most appealing industries to start a business. The plethora of opportunities are there, and the capacity to intersect disability and education solutions has hardly begun. Whether highlighting social-emotional learning apps, language learning apps to early childhood technologies, the potential to integrate the knowledge of the disability experience can be a real economic force to help these businesses scale and meet the growing demands for these diverse digital learning tools.

Not unlike EdTech, Leisure and Entertainment have also become a hotbed of action for entrepreneurs in the startup space. From fashion brands to video games, the demand from the consumer is there and the space for entrepreneurs with disabilities will certainly be needed. According to Vogue Business, the $400 billion accessible clothing market has only begun to take shape and will continue to evolve. The role of the entrepreneur and fashion startups will be a driving force in the marketplace. Similarly, accessibility in the video game market is now reaching a feverous pace where stalwarts like Microsoft and Sony are trying to get their share of this $150 billion market. Yet, there is room for young entrepreneurs out there from game developers, engineers, and other fresh minds who can enter the industry and show that gaming is for everyone and that everything from subtitles to one-handed control systems can be beneficial for all. It is this appreciation that propels the very inclusive ethos of the disability experience that is central to business success.

Building on this very idea, we must pursue the notion that articulating a relationship with business and the disability community has to be a multifaceted approach. Leadership from startup entrepreneurs to C-level executives at Fortune 500 and 1000 companies can explore how to gain market share in these new industries by rethinking the relationship between disability and business. No longer can the disability market be seen through this myopic lens of just a niche market, but rather is viewed as a bazaar that has a mix of cultures and ideas that serve as a panorama for business opportunities. 

If organizations can reassess how to build a relationship around disability, then they will be in a better position to reap the benefits. In the next Mindset Matters column, we will go deeper into the mechanics of what building a multifaceted relationship within the disability community can look like and how to connect to the larger business landscape.

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