When communities collide

group-pic-in-dogpatch

On Thursday Hack Access Dublin took another step towards creating a movement that's all about changing the world using the power of community and collaboration.

I opened our 2nd Community Event by reiterating that Hack Access Dublin is about harnessing our startup community's talents and ambition to create a world that's inclusive to people of all abilities. During one of the first startup event's that I attended in Dublin it occurred to me that this was a community made up of people connected by the common goal of entrepreneurship and willing to collaborate in an effort to achieve their dreams. I felt there was so much power in that spirit and collective intelligence that it was a no-brainer - it should be used to solve meaningful problems.

Having grown up with a brother who was labelled 'disabled' when Muscular Dystrophy bound him to a wheelchair at the age of 11, I saw exclusion as being the worst consequence of his situation. It was for this reason I created Hack Access Dublin to focus the startup community's attention on the meaningful challenge that is social exclusion; imposed on those with a physical, sensory or cognitive impairment, by an environment not designed with their needs in mind.

Three years later and I'm blown away by how many other people care about solving this challenge.

Last Thursday evening in Dogpatch Labs, professionals from the communities of service design, engineering, technology and design rubbed shoulders with professionals from disability community organisations like National Disability Authority and The Rehab Group. Students like the guys from Entry Level, runners up in 2017's hackathon and keen to take their solution to the next 'level', chatted with experienced innovators already immersed in the world of disability innovation, who offered them advice on how to get to there.

The benefits of this collision of communities that happens at our Community Event are multilateral. For aspiring entrepreneurs driven by the desire to change the world for the better, attending provides many opportunities including meeting like minded professionals from other disciplines. One entrepreneur alone cannot change the world, but a team of diverse individuals can!

For Hack Access Dublin, a key benefit is the expansion of our network and opportunities to form partnerships.

This challenge demands a multidisciplinary approach to solve it's myriad challenges. The World Health Organisation says that "disability is extremely diverse" and the World Report on Disability defines disability as an interaction not 'an attribute of a person' and that "Inaccessible environments create disability by creating barriers to participation and inclusion". Environments are dynamic, complex systems and demand solutions that take a systematic approach; collaborations and partnerships between public institutions and private sector organisations are integral to this approach.

Speaking at last Thursday's Community event were professionals from the technology and education space. Brad Waid and Marialice B.F.X. Curran, in Ireland for Dublin's DigcitSummit, shared their stories of how technology can be used to tackle exclusion, from an education perspective. Though Hack Access Dublin is technically an innovation event, its function as an education device is becoming more important, especially as it is drawing many young innovators like the guys in C-Park and Entry Level. I take great pride in the fact that in addition to helping the public sector tackle the universally relevant challenge of the exclusion of people with disability, through facilitating partnership with the startup community, Hack Access Dublin is guiding young people towards more purposeful careers.

If you would like to partner with Hack Access Dublin to support Ireland create a more inclusive society to people disabled by the environment, please connect with me or attend the next Hack Access Dublin Community Event, which is on Thursday 5th July in Dogpatch Labs, register here.

To keep informed of the next Hack Access Dublin, scheduled to take place on 2-4 November in Google, please register here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Janice Valentine