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Ablr Works and BIT Collaboration: Empowering the Blind Community in Tech

Read more about Ablr's collaboration with BIT.

By John Samuel

In the dynamic realm of technology, where innovation knows no bounds, the imperative of inclusivity cannot be overstated. Yet, for individuals with disabilities, particularly those with visual impairments, the tech industry has often presented formidable barriers to entry. Recognizing this challenge, Ablr Works and the Blind Institute of Technology (BIT) have united forces, forging pathways to meaningful employment and championing inclusivity in tech.

At the core of this collaboration lies a shared commitment to breaking down barriers and fostering opportunities for all. John Samuel, co-founder of Ablr and a fervent advocate for disability inclusion, brings a personal journey steeped in resilience and determination. John recalls meeting Mike Hess, the founder and executive director of BIT, several years ago, struck by Mike’s maverick style and direct communication.

John’s journey of vision loss and launching Ablr Works, intersected with that of Mike Hess. With over two decades of experience as a tech veteran, Mike’s journey was marked by a pivotal realization—he was often perceived as the “token blind guy” in corporate settings, despite his invaluable skills and contributions. Determined to challenge stereotypes and create opportunities for the visually impaired community, Mike founded BIT, driven by a mission to change corporate America’s perceptions of professionals who are blind and visually impaired.

The collaboration between Ablr Works and BIT represents a convergence of passion, expertise, and purpose. Over the years, John and Mike stayed connected, actively seeking opportunities for their organizations to collaborate. Earlier this year, their shared commitment to empowerment led to a significant milestone when Mike reached out to John with an opportunity for digital accessibility analysts. One of Mike’s clients was seeking individuals who were native users of assistive technology to join their accessibility team—presenting a perfect opportunity for collaboration.

Encouraging candidates from the Ablr Works Accessibility Analyst Program to apply through BIT, John and Mike witnessed the power of partnership in action. Three promising candidates were shortlisted for consideration. Despite one of the candidates securing another opportunity shortly after the pool was narrowed down, their collaboration yielded fruitful results.

One of the Ablr Work’s candidates found themselves getting selected by BIT’s client, where they are contributing to the client’s accessibility team—a testament to the impact of Ablr Works and BIT’s joint efforts in opening doors to meaningful employment. Meanwhile, Mike directly hired the final candidate to join the BIT team, further strengthening their bond and commitment to serving the blind community.

This collaboration exemplifies the potential when organizations with similar missions come together, transcending silos to drive collective impact. John believes that too many organizations operate in silos, missing out on the opportunity to create meaningful change. By collaborating with Mike Hess and his team, Ablr Works and BIT are leading by example, demonstrating that it is possible to work together to serve the blind community while achieving success.

As Ablr Works and BIT continue to collaborate and inspire, they extend an invitation to others to join them on their journey toward a more accessible and inclusive future. Together, we can harness the power of technology to break down barriers, amplify diverse voices, and create a world where everyone can thrive.