Here is my speech at the World Autism Advantage Event at the United Nations, March 31 2017: (more about coolabilities here)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank the organizers for inviting me to such an important event and all of you for being here.Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. But once someone is called disabled, people expect less. But disabilities often come with enhanced abilities. Thanks to you, we know that some on the spectrum are excellent programmers, not despite but because of their condition. Thorkil Sonne’s Specialisterne, SAP and others have shown this. The word is spreading.At i4j – the Innovation for Jobs Leadership Forum – we seek new ways to create meaningful jobs for everyone. We coined the term “coolabilities” to describe enhanced abilities accompanying disabling conditions—Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia and blindness, to name a few. Our seminal paper, by Chally Grundwag, Nurit Yirmiya and myself, introduces the concept. Based on scores of research papers, we list, for the first time, disabilities and coolabilities with matching professions. People with ASD may show great attention to detail, expansive long term memory and pattern recognition; people with ADHD seek novelty, are risk takers and can connect multiple ideas; Dyslexics can connect tasks and realities and are super imaginative – vital for entrepreneurial initiatives.Coolabilities could solve a huge threat to the world economy. How? Innovation is destroying jobs, separating people, lowering their value as workers. But artificial intelligence and the Internet can connect people and enhance their mutual value. We need as much innovation for earning as for spending. Raising income from zero to a hundred thousand dollars a year for someone with coolabilities will soon be easier than raising someone from a hundred thousand to two hundred thousand. We know this from the high demand for engineers with ASD. We want to enable this for other conditions too. When business raises the value of people, the most undervalued people are the first resource. Leveraging people with coolabilities will raise everyone’s value.
We don’t know yet how common coolabilities are. But we do know that parents and caregivers can identify coolabilities even in severely disabled children. We are inspired and determined to move ahead, to increase the value of coolabled people. We want this to become a movement. Coolabilties is not just a cool word, it’s a vision for a better future.David NordforsCo-Founder and CEO, i4j Innovation for Jobs