When discussing the topic of parity in the workplace, one group is often left out of the conversation: individuals with disabilities. The average unemployment rate of this population hovers around twice that of the national rate. These statistics may be partially due to inefficiency in today’s workplace environments.
Eboni Freeman understood the challenge. During her internship experience at a large technology company, Emory graduate Freeman — who is herself a person with disabilities — saw firsthand the impact of the inefficiencies and lack of accommodations for this population. After speaking with three HR representatives over three weeks, and exchanging 30 emails, appropriate accommodations were made — but not before Freeman came up with the idea for what would become Ability Enabled.
The SaaS tool aims to create more inclusive working environments by recommending accommodation packages to employees with disabilities. When an employee with a disability needs a reasonable accommodation, the platform provides them with recommendations based on their symptoms. The app’s design caters to those with limited vision by supporting iOS VoiceOver screen reader, and those with limited motor skills by allowing users to enter Multi-Touch gestures using one finger or a stylus.
First, the user selects the accommodation that best suits them. The request is then passed along to either the managers or HR team, depending on the company. After the request is sent, the employee can track its progress within the system.
The startup, less than one year old, took first place at the largest hackathon in the Southeast, HackATL, as well as a number of other student-focused pitch competitions, and is currently looking for a small amount of funding from angel investors.
What’s your pitch?
Ability Enabled is a SaaS enterprise startup aiming to create more inclusive working environments for people with disabilities. We can do this by providing a simple software platform for employers and employees navigating disability inclusion. The software can be easily personalized and integrated into existing Human Resource systems, and will address many of the issues and obstacles in the current disability accommodation processes.
How’d you get the idea for it?
The idea was initially inspired by Eboni’s internship experience in a large technology company. In that time, she recognized that a lack of technology, not a lack of empathy or resources, kept her and the team back from optimal inclusion and productivity.
What problem are you solving?
Ability Enabled aims to solve two problems: miscommunication and the inefficiency of disability accommodation discovery, processing and tracking.
What’s your current funding status?
We’ve been looking to secure funding from angel investors. We’ve won $600 from HackATL, $1,000 from the annual Pitch the Summit competition and $800 as a member of Emory University’s inaugural accelerator program.
What’s your revenue model?
Our revenue model is company size-based annual subscription, with premium add-ons for additional bespoke services such as data-driven, personalized strategic reports for managers, Employee Resource Group leaders and Chief Diversity Officers.
Who are your competitors and how do you stand out?
We have two main competitors: Symplicity and Micropact. Both are excellent in their respective fields — governmental and higher education clients — and we’re excited to work alongside them to broaden disability inclusion while standing out by focusing on enterprise clients.
What are your goals moving forward?
Our goal for the end of July is to launch a tactical and strategic guidebook on our abilityenabled.com website that provides potential benchmarks, step-by-step instructions and lessons gleaned from our 100+ discovery interviews. We are going to provide perspectives from diversity managers, Employees with Disabilities (EWD) and disability-diversity consultants on dealing with reasonable accommodation and creating a more inclusive working environment for people of all abilities.