PDX Startup Weekend Access is the first-ever Startup Weekend that will offer tools like Braille print-outs or sign language interpreters. This isn’t a Special Olympics edition of Startup Weekend, but rather a hackathon where necessary tools will be made available to those who need it.
The hope is to recruit about 20 percent of participants from disabled communities. Once the event is over, organizers will take the best practices learned and offer advice to the Startup Weekend headquarters in Seattle with the hope that future Startup Weekends will be more accessible to all.
Co-lead organizer Todd Bachmann came up with the idea when he started thinking about the deaf and blind community and the potential technology innovation. He wanted to figure out how Startup Weekend could work into that and met Cory Klatik, a blind social media manager for Intel and four-time Startup Weekend attendee.
“He helped me realize the weekend could be stronger in its accessibility offerings for the entire disabled community — not just the visual and hearing impaired communities — and inspired me to co-organize the event with him to do that just that.” Bachmann explained.
The organizers have reached out to Portland’s disabled community to ensure that the event is accessible to as many people as possible. The Portland Development Commission has already provided an ADA-compliant space.
Klatik noted how it is difficult for disabled people to find work and said entrepreneurship is one way to have consistent employment.
“Given this, and the unique point of view and creativity the disabled community brings to the table, these are two communities that were destined to come together, Klatik said.
Startup Weekend Access kicks off Feb. 7. Head here for more information.