papers to surveys and other narratives
CODIC enables developers to design applications. One example is a
“coolabilities finder” where people can
search for their enhanced strengths,
helped by what they know about their
conditions, strengths, history, needs,
weaknesses, and more.
Imagine, for example, an entrepreneur with an interest in the potential
of people with dyslexia. Affecting approximately one-tenth of the population, dyslexia creates a substantial
drop-out risk for high-potential individuals. Many people with dyslexia
have a number of strong abilities that
are useful for design jobs, leadership
roles, and other positions. Many do
not have a college education, because
such education generally requires
strong reading and writing skills.
This may be one reason why people
with dyslexia often find themselves as
The entrepreneur can use the CODIC
to research how many people are dyslexic,
their correlating strengths and weaknesses, and to learn stories of successful dyslexia coolabilities advantages.
By targeting dyslexics using a “
coolability finder,” the developers’ community can form an ecosystem for designing
applications that link talent with opportunity. We already know of numerous positions for people with disabilities, such as the job openings at SAP for
people from the ASD community. Members of coolabilities.ai can leverage this
business opportunity by creating the
solutions needed for their employment
where corporations lack their own recruitment and training pipelines.
1. Burgstahler, S.E. and Ladner, R.E. Increasing the
participation of persons with disabilities in computing
fields. IEEE Computer 40, 5 (May 2007); DOI
2. Nordfors, D. et al. Coolabilities API. In Proceedings of
The IEEE International Conference on Data Science
and Advanced Analytics (IEEE DSAA), 2018; https://
3. World Bank and WHO. World report on disability;
David Nordfors ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is CEO and co-founder of
i4j Innovation for Jobs, Palo Alto, CA, USA.
Chally Grundwag ( email@example.com) spearheads the
development of the coolabilities concept, Palo Alto, CA, USA.
V.R. Ferose ( firstname.lastname@example.org) leads i4j’s coolabilities.
ai project and is Senior Vice President and Head of
Globalization Services at SAP, Palo Alto, CA, USA.
Copyright held by authors.
to see people with certain disabilities
placed, as stereotypes, into certain
professions. But coolabilities do not
limit the talent to any specific professions, rather point out to a general
phenomenon, and a world of strength
and talent that waits to be discovered.
We are in the early days, yet worldwide
coolabilities initiatives are beginning to coalesce and show synergies.
The multidimensional description of
coolabilities we suggest replaces labels and slots with a coordinate system
spanning a limitless space of understanding, opportunity, and action.
Coolabilities at SAP
Labs Latin America
Coolabilities are currently being implemented at SAP Labs Latin America.
Brazil legally requires that between 2%
and 5% of every company’s permanent
workforce to be people with disabilities
(PWD).c The government levies penalties against companies that do not comply. SAP Brazil has 1,950 permanent
employees, and 97 are required to be
PWD. To ensure compliance, the SAP
Managing Director (MD) John Dennison has recently on-boarded 15 PWD
as apprentices in a joint effort with the
SENAC trade association. His office has
conducted interviews designed to identify these employees’ coolabilities. The
next step will be to map coolabilities to
open positions, ensuring the best fit.
Says Dennison, “we don’t want to just
ensure compliance, we want every person to have a meaningful career at SAP.”
But the strengths of people with disabilities must be proven beyond merely
a regulatory compliance: their strengths
need to be measured systematically
to enhance the coolabilities database,
which we describe next, and to ensure
organizations make decisions effectively, providing the desired business
outcomes at scale.
Companies like Specialisterne,
founded by Thorkil Sonne (also found-
er of the “autism advantage” movement) have taken great steps in this
direction.d However, employment of
people with disabilities in the commercial market today is largely dependent on donations from foundations;
it needs more commercial investment
from growth-oriented investors. Hundreds of open positions at large companies wait to be occupied by people with
coolabilities. It is an existing demand
waiting to be satisfied. What remains is
to bootstrap the market.
the Ecosystem for Innovating Jobs
According to the 2011 World Report
on Disability, 3 one billion people, or
15% of the world population, experience some form of disability, making
them the world’s largest “minority”—
a demographic suffering an unemployment rate up to 80% in some countries. In the U.S., approximately 35% of
working-age people with disabilities
are working, less than half the number
of people without disabilities. With
nearly one-fifth of the U.S. population
diagnosed with some form of disability (according to census), exploring
ways to employ coolabilities has enormous potential for the U.S. alone.
Our i4j project “ coolabilities.ai”
has a plan for bootstrapping an ecosystem for innovating jobs for people
with coolabilities and is designed to
be applicable for all job specializations, not just those for the disabled.
Our community includes engineers,
experts, and enthusiasts who care
about turning a perceived problem
into an opportunity.
The key common resource of the
“ coolabilities.ai” platform is the “CODIC,”
the COolabilities-DIsabilities Correlation Database (see the figure). It supports an API2 that maps correlations
between conditions and traits—both
weaknesses (disabilities) and strengths
(coolabilities). It can be crowdsourced
in a manner similar to Wikipedia and
personalized job matching can be provided by a deep learning/decision intelligence system. Such a peer community
will be required because the task will
involve making judgments and developing policies. It can use a multitude
of sources, from peer reviewed research