People around a table actively collaborating

You may have heard of “hack-a-thons” where a group comes together to create a software to accomplish a set goal.  The Disability:IN Innovation Lab (iLab) is a “hack-a-thon” used to solve any problem that enhances the ways in which we live, shop, and/or have experiences.

The Disability:IN iLab brings together college students with disabilities and career professionals, with and without disabilities, under the principles of universal design to dream up the next big ideas in design or technology. The iLab was designed to show that people with disabilities can be the “catalyst for innovation” with design breakthroughs that will benefit the world! While the Disability:IN model presented here is designed for college students or recent graduates with disabilities and volunteers from our Partners, it can easily be adapted for younger students and groups that include students with or without disabilities.

The iLab deepens relationships with local universities, nonprofits, businesses, and governments to collaborate and show that workplaces that include people with disabilities can become better innovators. Volunteer career professionals, with or without disabilities, serve as mentors or subject matter experts. Students, working in teams, leave the iLab with a greater understanding of team work and a new confidence that they can participate in solving world challenges.

Reasons to involve multiple organizations for planning the event

  • Local universities & colleges, nonprofits, Workforce Development & Vocational Rehabilitation offices assist in recruiting students for the program
  • Business partners or business units within your company learn that individuals with disabilities are innovative in solving local or world challenges and will invest resources to support the iLab

The BEST part of the iLab

  • Witnessing the collaborative effort and the innovative technological ideas of an inclusive society that comes from the Next Generation of employees. The excitement is contagious, and it will no doubt have an impact on all who participate.

The benefits of the iLab for the Students

  • Students learn valuable skills in problem solving and teamwork outside of the classroom focusing on real world problems
  • Students have a venue to show their skills and talents
  • In an intentionally planned group that includes diversity in disability, ethnicity and economic backgrounds, students will gain an appreciation of individuals with other disabilities and backgrounds as well as disability pride
  • Students learn what disability-related accommodations other individuals need to do their best work

The benefits of the iLab for the Sponsoring Organization and Business Partners

  • Meeting some of the brightest talent that they may be able to bring to their organization
  • Solving a challenge needed for their company or for the world
  • Gaining a greater understanding of what is needed to successfully transition talented next generation employees from school to the workplace
  • Understanding what disability-related accommodations the members of the next generation workforce use to be productive
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