ImpactAlpha, October 7 – Regina Kline has seen the state of labor and employment for disabled Americans up close, as a lawyer representing workers with disabilities. Three decades after the Americans With Disabilities Act, almost two-thirds of the disabled population remain unemployed. Nearly half of disabled Americans live in long-term poverty. Kline came to see that equity requires “a concerted effort to move capital and investment towards great ideas wherever they live in the disability community.”
Then Kline met Jim Sorenson, the billionaire founder of Sorenson Impact, who made his fortune applying video compression technology to realtime captioning to help deaf and hard-of-hearing people communicate more fluidly (Sorenson’s brother-in-law inspired the idea).
With Sorenson, Kline created Enable Ventures to invest in companies closing the disability wealth gap.
Enable will fund growth-stage ventures founded by, for or with people with disabilities. Kline sees opportunities in upskilling, worktech and edtech.
Globally, some 1.8 billion people identify as disabled. Kline takes a more expansive view. Everyone is likely to be disabled at some point in their life, perhaps through a broken bone, illness or age-related decline. Covid was “a mass disability event,” she says. The barriers to simply leaving the house demonstrated the need for flexibility and adaptability that the disabled community has long advocated for.
“Disability really is inherently better design,” says Kline. “The founders that we see every day are designing inclusively to reach more people, and to exclude fewer through universal and inclusive design.”