Two of the biggest myths when it comes to working with disabilities is the belief that technology and employee accessibility is expensive. The second is the belief that employees with disabilities hurt not help drive business revenue. These myths are conversations we need to hit and work to debunk which is why I’m excited to talk to my podcast guest today.
This episode of the Workology Podcast is part of our Future of Work series powered by PEAT, the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology. In honor of the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act this year, we’re investigating what the next 30 years will look like for people with disabilities at work, and the potential of emerging technologies to make workplaces more inclusive and accessible. Today, I’m joined by Mike Hess.
Ep 246: Accessibility Solutions for Employers with Mike Hess (@MikeHess)
Mike Hess is the Founder and Executive Director of the Blind Institute of Technology. After 20 years as a tech veteran managing 7-figure projects for Fortune 500 companies, one thing troubled Mike: he was always the token blind guy. Knowing that the invaluable skills he developed because of his blindness were the keys to his success, he couldn’t understand why unemployment amongst the BVI community was so high. He embarked on a journey to change corporate America’s stigmas and misperceptions of BVI professionals, developing the Blind Institute of Technology. Using the same skills that made him a success in IT, Mike has built partnerships and placed BVI professionals in Fortune 500 companies nationwide.
Mike has been featured in the Denver Post and the Denver Business Journal and has been honored with the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. Business Award, and the 2019 GlobalMindED Inclusive Leader Award. BIT’s focus on accessible technology garnered invitations to present at Google Cloud Next 2019 and Salesforce’s Dreamforce 2019 conference. Mike is a co-host for Choose Inclusion, a podcast addressing the benefits of diversity and inclusion. In 2019, Mike’s vision of full access for BVI led him to develop EdgGuide, a navigation system that allows independent navigation in previously inaccessible public spaces.
Creating Employment Opportunities for People with Disabilities
Mike launched his own non-profit and left his corporate sales job with the goal of helping create more employment opportunities for people with disabilities. His organization, Blind Institute of Technology provides staffing and placement services for organizations to hire and employment people with disabilities. Mike shares the why behind why this is so important to him. His work is helping employer find great employees to fill a variety of positions in organizations driving productivity, revenue and lowering employee retention rates. One of the reasons I wanted to talk with Mike is because of his work with so many global organizations. He offers great insights for HR and workplaces leaders on how to establish and grow diversity and inclusion programs focused on not benefits including return on investment….