To solve our most pressing challenges, we need the total sum of human intelligence and emancipatory energy in our society. This includes the expertise and leadership of people with disabilities. Alice Wong, founder and director of the Disability Visibility Projectwrote, “There is so much that able-bodied people could learn from the wisdom that often comes with disability. But space needs to be made. Hands need to reach out. People need to be lifted up.”

People with disabilities are leading policy change, technology development, and workplace evolution. In addition to ensuring the successful passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, they are impacting internet accessibility standards and offering community-centered approaches to surviving crises like the pandemic and climate change. Yet institutions and funders continue to underinvest in their leadership and expertise.

As funders at the Ford Foundation and Borealis Philanthropy, we seek to leverage our positions to advocate for greater support and funding for disabled leaders. The newly launched Disability x Tech Fund, which focuses on technology justice, offers a framework for how we can collectively resource these leaders.

The intersection of technology and disability justice has been historically underresourced. However, it presents enormous opportunities to disrupt inequality. This is because when we talk about technology justice, we are not simply talking about tools in isolation. Our interactions with technology are shaped and intermediated by the people who design them, the decisions made on how to deploy them, and the human-created rules that govern them.

Technology justice requires understanding who is included or excluded from these processes. People of color, immigrants, women, LGBTQIA people, and people with disabilities all experience social inequities that extend to technology and are less likely to be in the room when technology is developed. In fact, processes for designing and developing technology are highly exclusionary, often lacking the vital perspectives and lived experiences needed to ensure it works for everyone.

Read the full article about disability leaders by Lori McGlinchey and Sandy Ho at Nonprofit Quarterly.