Follow the vision of Janice Valentine - and let’s do something special

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Janice Valentine has a vision: that Dublin will become the HackAccess capital of the world. And why not? We already show the way in tech, finance, business, the arts, music - and punch way above our weight in sport. So why not disability access? Why can it not be the number one event of its kind in the world? I believe it can - and the reason is Janice Valentine.

Hack Access Dublin was an eye opener for me. I knew little of the challenges faced by those with disabilities before attending. But now I know more. And the facts are shocking.

In a country that boasts average employment of 6% - 64% of highly educated graduates with disabilities are unemployed.

People with disabilities face ridiculous challenges enjoying the normal social life that’s at the heart of Irish culture.

Our transport systems are not meeting the needs - and even when they work - you might get locked in the storeroom of a train for 2 hours. I’m not joking - it happened to a wheel chair user, and all because of ineffective access systems.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Janice Valentine has started a movement, which I believe will turn heads.

And she's gathered incredible support.

Organisations such as the Rehab GroupNational Learning NetworkAHEADSmart DublinAccentureGirls in TechNissan Motor CorporationNCBI, and Google have stepped up to the plate.

So have innovators such as David PollardGavin NeateAntonio SantosColin KeoghKieran Hanrahan.

Not to say anything about the hundreds of volunteers and attendees who have showed up over the past 2 years to innovate and create solutions. People from the fields of tech, creativity, business, transport, education, psychology and disability awareness. And when you bring all these elements together…you have something powerful. The energy and creativity at hack access can only be described as electric.

And for anyone who missed out – don’t let it happen next year. Hack Access Dublin has potential to change your life; and that of many others. I know it has changed mine. Been part of a movement that can transform the world of disability access is incredibly inspiring

And let’s not forget one more thing about Janice - this is not a personal crusade; it’s a legacy to her brother.

So let’s get behind the vision of Janice Valentine. And do something really special. #hackaccessdublinruletheworld Derek O Kelly #DreamTeam #AbleAccess

By Derek O'Kelly, Hack Access Dublin Community team member

Janice Valentine