Our Ability Expanding to New England

March 17, 2021

(Albany, N.Y.) – Capital Region, N.Y. native, and persons with disabilities activist, John Robinson, CEO of Our Ability, has recently made an agreement with the Commonwealth Medicine/University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Work Without Limits, based in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. The program encourages new businesses throughout New England to post their jobs on the newly launched Jobs Ability platform, and enable more individuals with disabilities interested in marketing their skills towards employment, to do so.

Our Ability recently partnered with Ontario Disability Employment Network (ODEN), based in the Toronto area, and will run the job portal exclusively in Canada, with the cooperative title, Jobs Ability Canada.

Jobs Ability’s unique chatbot, named “Abi,” (short for ability) was developed specifically for persons with disabilities to help users update their professional profiles to gain access to jobs that are better suited to their abilities. Jobs Ability is the culmination of nearly two years of collaboration with Syracuse University iSchool, Zammo Inc., and BlueGranite, Inc. The project also received a grant from Microsoft’s AI for Good program.

The Jobs Ability platform is also running on sister-sites across the United States, Disability:IN Greater Kansas City, Disability:IN Minnesota, Disability:IN North Carolina, and Virginia Ability.

Our Ability was utilizing a job board previous to this new advancement, with 40,000 unique visitors to the site just last year, and in the past two years, 2,500 users signed up for the services. With this new chatbot technology, creators hope to see those numbers triple.

“The goal of Work Without Limits is to increase the employment of people with disabilities until it is equal to those without disabilities,” said Kathy Petkauskos, director of Work Without Limits. “Jobs Ability is an exciting opportunity to connect disability-inclusive employers in New England to qualified and talented job candidates who just happen to have disabilities. We are excited to be part of this innovative solution.”

“I’m very excited that we’re able to bring our new AI technology to New England and Canada through these newly forged partnerships,” said John Robinson, CEO of Our Ability. “This is an opportunity to engage the business community in a new way, with cutting-edge technology, as well as highlight the skills of individuals with disabilities across the country to ensure their pathway to employment.”

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, only 19.3 percent of persons with disabilities were employed. These statistics have only grown more grave since the pandemic.

However, a report by Accenture found that if the number of people with disabilities in the labor force grew even just 1 percent, the nation’s gross domestic product could expand by as much as $25 billion.

As the pandemic persists, and while many still struggle with unemployment, Robinson is passionate about helping individuals with disabilities find jobs best suited to their talents and abilities, not just what is on a resume.

The process within Jobs Ability is driven by artificial intelligence; it’s a chatbot on the front end of the site enabling users to build a profile towards employment. It will ask all of the normal questions about history and preferences, but then also ask about skills and disabilities for those who are more disabled. It becomes more than just a profile; it’s the culmination of hundreds of skill questions to ensure that someone is considered as more than just a work history.

To learn more about Our Ability and Jobs Ability, visit https://www.ourability.com/.

About Our Ability. As pioneers in disability inclusion, employment and workplace accessibility, Our Ability acts as a bridge between individuals and businesses through education and collaboration. Our goal is to empower employers to understand and leverage the increasingly valuable employment population of people with disabilities, proven to lower job turnover rates and boost morale and productivity.

About Work Without Limits. An initiative out of the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division, Work Without Limits is a network of employers, educational institutions, employment service providers, and state and federal agencies. Through collaboration and partnership, our goal is to increase the employment of people with disabilities until it is equal to those without disabilities. Work Without Limits programs and services are geared to meet the needs of employers that actively recruit people with disabilities, individuals with disabilities who are seeking jobs, and the employment providers that serve them.

About UMass Medical School. The University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS), the commonwealth’s first and only public academic health sciences center, with a mission to advance the health and wellness of our diverse communities throughout Massachusetts and across the world by leading and innovating in education, research, health care delivery and public service. Learn more at www.umassmed.edu.

About Commonwealth Medicine. Commonwealth Medicine is the consulting and operations division of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. It draws on the academic knowledge and public health service expertise of Massachusetts' only public medical school to provide comprehensive, innovative health care and policy solutions. Commonwealth Medicine is guided by a mission to empower its partners – in-state and out-of-state agencies and health care organizations – to transform lives by optimizing the effectiveness of health care initiatives that assist the underserved in their communities.