With every passing year, the increasing digitization of society makes it a little bit easier for people living with disability to gain their independence. That being said, there are still huge barriers in the way of success when it comes to disabled entrepreneurs. According to advocacy group the National Disability Institute, while there are a growing number of disabled business owners, many still face the challenges posed by a scarcity of support, a lack of programs that meet their individual needs, and the simple challenge of being disabled in modern day America. Society, as a whole, can do more.
The matter of infrastructure
A good measure of how welcoming a city will be for disabled entrepreneurs is an overall look at their inclusivity as a whole. The best disability-friendly cities in America include Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, and St Louis, Missouri; they have good local infrastructure, programs that are broadly supportive of disabled people
, and public amenities and services that aren’t weighted against those with the challenge of long-term conditions. However, while all of this is excellent, there remains one area of improvement for many cities – and that’s accessibility. While some of the best cities for disabled workers excel in support networks, they don’t always do so well when it comes to transportation. Indeed, CNBC highlights that the best US cities for traveling
don’t share much of an overlap with those cities – NYC, Orlando and Las Vegas being chief among them.
A lack of support
Entrepreneur magazine recently created a profile of Zach Cutler, a successful business owner who has started two VC backed enterprises. In the profile, Zach highlighted the work that he has had to do because of his disability, and how it has driven him to greater heights. Despite this, the profile also notes the barriers that physical disability creates to success in the entrepreneurial world
. Support programs are essential. Many of the programs and schemes that seek to provide impetus and support to entrepreneurs don’t account for the challenges that disability poses, and that must change.
On the horizon
Change is afoot – in the form of congressional updates to the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. A response to the mooted changes, published by disability advocacy organization RespectAbility, these changes are to be welcomed
. They will provide greater security to people living with disability, and make it easier to be listed as self-employed, an important life line for many people living with disability and a key gateway to becoming an entrepreneur. More than anything, these regulatory changes suggest that there is a focus on the challenges that disabled people face, and change will be coming.
This is good news, of course, but society always needs to be on hand to make positive changes for disabled people. They form a large part of society and the barriers that are in the way of their success could be depriving the country, and the economy, of a powerful source of growth.