Monique Morrow

Chief Technology Strategist

Coolabilities: The Key To A World of Newfound Potential

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October 2017

There are abilities. There are disabilities. And then, there are “coolabilities”: a new talent market, according to Medium, that describes the enhanced abilities that co-exist with certain disabilities.

My colleagues at http://i4j.info/blog/, Chally Grundwag, David Nordfors and Nurit Yirmiya have coined the term “coolabilities.”

“Coolabilities” are not linked to certain socio-economic-political conditions, and are not a synonym for general human potential. They’re the kind of abilities that exist regardless of background. They exist due to their disabilities, and they’re opening up the door to an entirely new talent pool.

Until now, the job market hasn’t paid much attention to those with disabilities. These people, unfortunately, are often undervalued and underappreciated, but the” coolabilities” that these disabilities create are not to be overlooked. They are to be researched, acknowledged, and valued in a way that opens up entirely new possibilities for the the job market.

There are three general categories of “coolabilities”: compensational, contextual, and singular. Compensational “coolabilities” are abilities that are strengthened at the loss of another (i.e. a leg that compensates for a missing arm). Contextual “coolabilities” are those traits that can be disabling in context and enabling in another (such as extreme attention to detail for some on the autism spectrum). Lastly, singular “coolabilities” are abilities that simply don’t exist in non-disabled people, such as blind peoples’ ability to reorganize neural pathways in the visual cortex.

The idea is simple: use the concept of “coolabilities” to turn the perception of a disabling condition into a resource potential for special abilities specific to certain work forces. In the tech industry, many recruiters are already embracing those with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (Aspergers) due to “coolabilities” that enable them to be excellent software engineers. The ultimate goal is to tap into more groups of these individuals, whether it be those with dyslexia (who often excel in creativity, problem solving, visual perception and innovative thinking), Attention Deficit/ Hyperactive Disorder or ADHD (who demonstrate valuable entrepreneurial traits such as novelty seeking and risk taking), or other disabling conditions.

Encouraging the job market to attend to these “coolabilities “will increase the likelihood of success not just for these individuals, but for companies who choose to use these individuals’ talents.

At the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to develop a technological job matching platform that links “coolabilities” with specific enterprises. Several programs that hire those with disabilities already exist, and job matching platforms are already under development. What will be key is that this open source platform will be created by “coolabilities” for “”coolabilities”

An open source coolability talent platform is sure to come soon, and when it does—employers will be forced to take notice.