Article by Patricia Walsh, Principal at Blind Ambition Speaking and USA Para National Olympic-Distance Triathlon Champion
When I was growing up, the future for persons with disabilities did not seem bright to me. I was coached in the process for applying for SSDI. I believed to collect social security was my ceiling with regard to my potential for inclusion. As I have lived to see the tremendous change brought on by accessible technology I’m thrilled to have experienced firsthand the shattering of a ceiling of human potential. Working and contributing is more than a pathway to income, it is a yellow brick road to quality of life, self-worth, and a sense of achievement. Organizations such as Knowbility and similar organizations like the Blind Institute of Technology are driving the cultural changes to create new opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
Mike Hess is the founder of the Blind Institute for Technology based out of Denver, CO. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to increasing representation of persons with blindness in the workforce particularly in the fields of science, math, engineering, and technology. Hess believes that his success in the corporate world was not in spite of his blindness but actually attributed to his blindness. He believes his listening skills, problem solving, and resourcefulness made him an invaluable contributor in corporate America.
Hess started BIT in order to be part of the solution. They offer training for persons with blindness in tech-skills. They also interface with corporations to convey that persons with blindness can be an invaluable peace for any solution. BIT is a similar program to Knowbility’s Access works program. Access Works has a reach beyond blindness but similar in its approach. The premise being that the disability is not a problem it is an asset. In a world that values diversity and creative solution there is now access to a previously untapped pool of talented skills individuals.
Congratulations to BIT and Mike Hess for building on a change in perspective that may result in improved quality of life for individuals with blindness in the Colorado region. For more information regarding Bit please read here: http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_28502401/blind-institute-technology-aims-solve-jobless-epidemic