As cliché as it may sound, my journey to Dagersystem and AbilityPoints started with profound disappointment. In the summer of 2012, I had landed a dream internship with a major videogame publication. And at the end of that internship, I was informally offered a job by one of the magazine’s executives. I say informally, because when you’re a worker with a profound disability, there are lots of hurdles you have to cross if you want to get a full-time job.
Sorting out medical benefits, nailing down transportation, and securing on-site medical assistance are just 3 of the most common barriers disabled people face when hunting for full time positions. I quickly learned that despite the fact that my dream job was being offered to me, there was nothing the company could do to accommodate me. It would have required finding a new building, and moving out of their historic home in the heart of Minneapolis.
Ultimately, that’s why I started AbilityPoints. So that people like me would never have to deal with that kind of disappointment. Originally, Dagersystem was just a way for me to protect consumers as they navigated the field of games accessibility. But as it expanded, so did my vision. Playing games was not enough. There needed to be an on-ramp for disabled employees into the games industry space.
I know from my work as a private consultant that it is very possible for disabled people to work at a developer on a temporary basis. But for so many, this isn’t enough. There are highly skilled disabled people out there who are ready and willing to work. If only there was someone who could give them the skills that they are lacking, and educate employers about their needs. That’s what AbilityPoints does.
You see, most people without disabilities enter the workforce around age 13, and for the first 10 or so years of their careers, they’re doing menial, low-paying jobs while they finish their education and determine the direction they want to go in adulthood. But for the disabled, if this experience comes at all, it comes after college in many cases. This results in disabled professionals who are educated well enough to fill roles, but who are lacking basic communication and professional skills that would make them an asset to any company.
Addressing the challenge
AbilityPoints exists to address this challenge in two ways. One, by training and mentoring disabled professionals, giving them the skills they need to operate inside larger companies, and a platform to launch their dream careers in tech and gaming. And two, working with companies to help them understand how to attract, support, and retain highly skilled, profoundly disabled employees.
When donors give to AbilityPoints, they are ultimately investing in their own future. Because their money will help us find, train, and prepare a pool of skilled disabled workers. Workers that they can someday add to their workforce with the confidence that these individuals can meet the demands of their work environment, and use their perspectives on their own disability to enrich the companies they work for. Donors can also count on the fact that AbilityPoints will partner with them to make sure that their company is able to find and extract maximum value from one of the worlds most under-tapped labor forces: Profoundly disabled professionals.
I hope you consider partnering with AbilityPoints as we change the world, increase diversity in tech, and build a world where anybody can find employment, regardless of disability.