As the technology becomes more and more integrated into the workplace, competitive jobs might seem out of reach for students with disabilities.
Michele McKeone and her startup, Digitability, strive to add digital literacy to special needs curriculum to better prepare disabled students for jobs that require technology skills.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”) estimates that over half of all jobs require some level of technological prowess. It seems obvious, then, that all students should have exposure to digital literacy.
Digital Literacy to the Rescue
The BLS indicates that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is twice that of people without disabilities. While discrimination may play a role in the lack of consideration of disabled employees, Michele McKeone highlights a lack of digital literacy among special needs curriculum.
As a special needs high school teacher, McKeone feared her students were predestined for menial, low-wage employment.
‘I’m trying to raise the bar to make sure everyone is taught these important skills.” – Michelle McKeone
Therefore, McKeone decided to take matters into her own hands and founded Digitability. The online curriculum platform focuses on children with autism and other cognitive disabilities and offers the technological curriculum that public special needs programs often lack.
McKeone’s courses teach students basic things like using Google Calendar to visually represent organizing one’s life events.
Learning how to send an email or a message on social media is essential in the workplace, and while most pick up those skills on their own, students with disabilities are often never exposed to them. “There are roles that people with intellectual disabilities can fill in many businesses if they have the right training and support,” McKeone explains. “I’m trying to raise the bar to make sure everyone is taught these important skills.”
The platform has already been implemented throughout the Philadelphia School District.