Disability MarketplaceTM, Inc. was founded in 2009 by Jeffrey W. Cohen, a visually disabled businessperson who has degenerative blindness due to glaucoma. After losing his reading and mobility vision in 2004, Jeffrey began to experience the challenges a person with a disability faces on an ongoing basis, and attempted to secure assistance from government and/or private service organizations. Frustrated by eligibility restrictions, income level disqualifications and the limited resources available from either group, Mr. Cohen had two courses of action-- to earn an independent living, which meant he would have to provide for himself the special accommodations he required to function, or try to “get by” on a much smaller income and the government support for which he qualified. Having always worked and not being prepared to give up the active business and private lifestyle he had enjoyed, Jeffrey was determined to pursue employment, and set about securing the supportive technology he needed to conduct his work and his life.
In the process of acquiring this information and assistance, he was distressed to learn that more than 86% of all websites do not conform to the ADA 508 government-passed policies--which are relatively generic requirements that are used as guidelines by websites, but are not always specifically helpful to the disabled--and with other challenges in the work environment. As part of the process of investigating his options, Jeffrey networked with other organizations, people with his specific disability throughout the world, a variety of employers and others who mirrored his challenges due to their own individual disabilities. A broader picture of the current situation began to develop, one that revealed that out of 13 million disabled Americans, over 37% are unemployed. Several other things also became clear—that, in general, the job market displays an obvious unevenness in the employment of people with disabilities, and, despite the fact that the disabled desperately desire to overcome their overwhelming day-to-day challenges, many don’t know how best to find the resources necessary to do so.
In an effort to close some of the many gaps in information and assistance, Jeffrey has pulled together a collection of technologies to create a platform that forms the foundation of an online interactive learning system. This platform—Disability Marketplace—offers a wide-ranging system that can assist people with disabilities, employers, fellow employees and service providers in learning new skills, new relationship techniques--and more. Further, it is a website where people with disabilities can come to learn how to harness their capabilities: to develop marketable products and skills so that they can become independent and successful; to provide for themselves and their families; and, most importantly, to feel good about being contributors and participants in our global society.
We invite you to review the services offered here, to refer to us the people you know who may benefit from our site, and to visit our volunteer page, which provides opportunities for you to participate in our mission.