One of my favorite topics about which to write or speak is entrepreneurship. Particularly, I am fascinated by entrepreneurs who have a disability. As if starting a business isn’t hard enough, starting a business while experiencing some of the specific barriers imposed by having a disability encompasses such a tiny subset of humans, I had some difficulty finding subjects for several articles planned for the next few weeks.
Fortunately, The Hadley School has made finding this intriguing group of people infinitely easier. Introducing the Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship’s new database of business owners who have disabilities. If you are unfamiliar with The Hadley School, here is a bit of info taken right from their ‘about" page:
The mission of The Hadley School for the Blind is to promote independent living through lifelong, distance education programs for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, their families and blindness service providers.
Founded in 1920 by William Hadley and Dr. E.V.L. Brown, Hadley offers courses free of charge to its blind and visually impaired students and their families and affordable tuition courses to blindness professionals. Today, Hadley is the largest educator of people who are blind or visually impaired around the world, serving more than 10,000 students annually in all 50 states and 100 countries. Hadley is also the largest educator of braille. A 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, the school relies on contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations to fund its programs.
The Forsythe Center for Entrepreneurship (FCE) is part of Hadley’s Adult Continuing Education Program. The goal of this new initiative is to provide individuals who are blind or visually impaired with the knowledge, resources and networking opportunities to enable them to advance in their careers or to successfully launch and grow their own businesses. It was developed to address the 70 to 80 percent un- and underemployment rate among people who are blind or visually impaired.
The FCE is designed to provide requisite computer training; relevant Social Security, tax, accounting, legal, marketing, management and communications information; and content specific to the needs and concerns of individuals who are visually impaired. The FCE is meant to be practical, relevant and interactive, utilizing existing Hadley courses and newly created modules that contain the following elements:
•Online content with a variety of simulations
•Live and recorded online lectures available through Seminars@Hadley
•Interactive group discussions
•Access to an online resource center
•A searchable database of visually impaired civic and business owners
The majority of curriculum offerings and resources will be available online only. The Center is made possible by Hadley Trustee Sandy Forsythe and her husband Rick who have made a generous, three-year matching gift toward new monies raised by the school for this new initiative. Other funders include Alliant Credit Union Foundation, Union Bank Foundation, Martin J. and Susan B. Kozak Foundation, Siragusa Foundation, Helen Brach Foundation, Donald P. and Byrd M. Kelly Foundation, Adams Street Partners and a number of individual donors.
Who will you find listed in the searchable database of entrepreneurs? You can find out more about CEO’s like Mike Calvo of Serotek, ingenious solutions by Dancing Dots, and you can even learn more about solopreneurs like myself. Each business owner has a profile page with contact info.
All who are listed have agreed to serve as advisors or mentors for other entrepreneurs with disabilities. If you admire a business leader in your particular area of interest, you can write or call them with your questions. Are you a blind or visually impaired entrepreneur? Download and complete the profile form, and submit your info for consideration to be listed in the directory.