Shaping an Inclusive Future at Remarkable

Our Progress in Diversity, Accessibility, and Innovation

Hello, I’m Emma Earley – the Head of Acceleration programs at Remarkable!

This year, on International Women’s Day (IWD), in order to stay accountable, we publicly committed to:

  1. Prioritising discussions to identify where we can take action to improve our processes and practises that foster a truly inclusive Disability Tech ecosystem; and
  2. Share updates on this work today – which marks one month after IWD.

In my first blog post for Remarkable, I’m proud to share some of the work we have done, and hopefully encourage you to make some small steps within your own organisation.

What led us here?

It’s important to recognise that the team has prioritised and made incredible progress in the areas of diversity, inclusion and accessibility since Remarkable launched in 2016.

Part of Remarkable’s ethos is acknowledging that we won’t always get it right, but are committed to continual learning, growth and progress.

In late February, at our team offsite, it wasn’t all team-building lunches and paint-and-sip activities. Though, they were definitely highlights! We identified our team’s desire to enhance knowledge and skills to ensure we are more accessible in all areas of our work. We have prioritised training and capability-building across the team.

Then, throughout our Launcher pre-accelerator program in February and March, which supported 38 startups across seven operating countries with a range of accessibility needs, we listened to feedback on how we can improve our accessibility and inclusive practice.

When IWD 2024 came around, we had a number of discussions internally on what content we might create for you, our Remarkable community. However, we found ourselves stuck on what would contribute meaningfully to conversations and tangible action.

These IWD-related conversations uncovered an opportunity for us to solidify and build upon this work, and share it publicly to encourage collective action across the tech and startup ecosystem.

How did we approach it?

We approached this with a few principles in mind:

1. Momentum – keep it going strong post-IWD, whilst being realistic about achievable timelines.

2. Embedded, not an afterthought – we want diversity, inclusion and accessibility to be embedded in all of our work, not something that sits on the side as a discrete project. This is to ensure it is core to our way of operating, and to realistically account for resourcing and workload.

3. Progress over perfection – Combine long-term strategic thinking with immediate and short-term, achievable steps towards a bigger goal, and have a bias for action.

4. Accountability – dedicated staff leading the project and people responsible for specific tasks and mini-projects. We will share our progress with our community.

What progress have we made in one month?

The week after IWD, we surveyed and met with our Remarkable team to discuss how to approach this work and what to prioritise.

Quick wins (one month post-IWD)

1. Create a new internal Slack channel for this work to ensure targeted Remarkable team communication. [Completed]

2. Engage a subject-matter expert to facilitate an ‘Introduction to accessible presentations’ for Launcher program. [Completed]

3. Review Accelerator application and judging process to foster diversity and minimise bias.

  • Review and update application questions. [Completed]
  • Build and test application form to optimise for readability and screen readers. [Completed, and can be improved further]
  • Update judging process to de-identify applications and minimise bias. [Work in progress]
  • Define minimum standards for diversity of judges. [Completed]


4. Review our approach to Remarkable programming to ensure accessibility and inclusion is embedded, starting with Accelerator 2024.

  • Update Accelerator commitments and operating principles. [Completed]
  • Come along to our Accelerator AMA sessions this week to find out more!


5. Narrow down team training priorities, service providers and budget [Work in progress]

  • One staff member has commenced a digital accessibility training course, but we acknowledge we need to do more work in the short-term on this.

Let’s create change together

It can sometimes feel overwhelming to look at blue-sky outcomes and realise how much work it will take to get there, so we’re focused on making constant progress, no matter how seemingly small. Let’s continue shifting beyond awareness and inspiration on the day of IWD to perpetual, collective action that moves the needle in the right direction.

Remarkable’s next commitments

We’ve checked a few things off our to-do list already, which is a great start, but there’s
more important work to be done!

Here’s what we commit to over the next five months:

1. Strategy: Define the focus areas for diversity, accessibility, equity and inclusion, our key metrics and how to navigate competing priorities.

2. Data analysis: Review our current representation across all programs and stages of the user journey, and identify any data gaps.

3. Internal processes: Review, update and publish our Inclusion and Accessibility Commitment on the Remarkable website.

4. Training: Tailored training for Remarkable team members.

Join us on the journey

We encourage you to join us in this work and to keep each other accountable!

1. Please share your thoughts and feedback on our commitments.

2. If you have some commitments for action, share them on LinkedIn and tag Remarkable so we can stay in touch and on track.

If you’d like to be connected with someone working in diversity, accessibility and inclusion in the Remarkable community, feel free to get in touch at hello@remarkable.org

Meet our JK Fellow Fiona Murphy

Orange tile with text “Fiona Murphy, Writer, 2024 Fellow” alongside a headshot of a white woman with short dark hair. She is wearing glasses and is smiling.

Introducing Fiona Murphy

I’m an award-winning writer and editor based in the Blue Mountains, NSW. My writing about disability and accessibility has appeared in The Guardian, ABC, The Saturday Paper, Griffith Review, The Big Issue, among many other outlets. I’m a casual lecturer for RMIT University’s Professional Writing and Editing Program.

In 2021, my memoir about deafness (The Shape of Sound) was released in Australia, New Zealand, UK and North America. It has received praise from Helen Garner, Sarah Krasnostein and Bri Lee. It was highly commended in the 2022 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.

What was your motivation to apply?

I want the world to be more accessible.

I hid my deafness for over twenty years. I was terrified to be excluded from interactions and rejected from jobs. Having a communication disability can be a stigmatising experience.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

There is clear policy, guidance and recommendations for physical accessibility. Most cities and towns have endless examples of physical access — from ramps to rails, curb cuts to arm rests. But there is a lack of information about communication accessibility.

This is why I’ve created the Accessible Communications Collective. Having an accessible brand, content and sales strategy is essential to attract and retain customers. It creates a feeling of ease and inclusivity. It is also just good business. Accessible communication is good communication. It is clear and impactful.

What are you hoping to achieve?

Having access to community and accountability has given me tremendous confidence. Since starting the fellowship I have launched an email newsletter. It has quickly gained subscribers from across Australia and around the world. I have been genuinely blown away by how many people email me after each newsletter, either to say thanks or to continue the conversation. It is heartwarming how enthusiastic people are about learning about communication accessibility.

I have so much to discover about start-ups, but the fellowship is fast tracking my learning curve. It is a thrilling journey to be on.

What excites you about Disability Tech?

Digital accessibility.

What does the Remarkable community mean to you?

The enthusiasm and kindness is unparalleled. Everyone has been so generous with their expertise. It is like having dozens of cheerleaders on your side.

Stay up to date – Follow us on socials, subscribe to our newsletter.

2023 Remarkable Highlights

Collage of smiling people, a phone screen, group portrait, and a number 2023 in bold.

Wow! 2023 has been filled with hardwork, achievements and ground-breaking milestones. As we near the end of this year we want to take this chance to reflect and celebrate our collective success, so buckle up for this fast-paced recap of this phenomenal journey!

Check out our list below of some of the top highlights:

1. Supported 12 startups through our Global Accelerator Program

Twelve ground-breaking Disability Tech startups completed our 2023 Remarkable Accelerator (#RA23) program! These global pioneers received seed funding and honed their skills, propelling their revolutionary technologies forward.

Experience their journey by watching the #RA23 Demo Day recording!

2.Ran Design-athon in partnership with Soda

Thrilled with our 2023 Design-athon’s success! We hosted 120 participants from 13 countries who used inclusive design to solve community-identified issues, supported by our partner Soda and experts like Elizabeth Chandler. We can’t wait to watch this year’s three Design-athon winners continue their journey in our 2024 Launcher!

3. Introduced Scaler to the world

We were excited to launch ‘Remarkable Scaler’, offering funding and support from Seed to Series A for Disability Tech Ventures. With the help of Cerebral Palsy Alliance, we now support disability tech startup founders on their next stage of growth. Join us, transform your product into a thriving business, and start your remarkable journey!

4. Produced Season Two of Remarkable Insights

Season Two of the Remarkable Insights Podcast doubled the inspiration with guests like Vint Cerf and Elizabeth Chandler joining host Viv Mullan. Each episode celebrates pioneers transforming disability-tech and shattering conventional boundaries. Tune in for a voyage through innovation, business, and social change!

5. Release of the world-first State of Disability Tech report

We were elated to contribute to the first-ever report on the Disability Innovation Ecosystem! In partnership with Village Capital and JP Morgan Chase, we assessed global disability innovation hubs. This pivotal work, part of the Moonshot Disability Accelerator Initiative with Smartjob and Enable Ventures, is paving the way for inclusive tech startups.

6. Hosted our 2023 Remarkable Tech Summit

We celebrated a transformative week at the 2023 Remarkable Tech Summit, thanks to CPA and CPARF. San Diego buzzed with panels, keynotes, and workshops, all ignited by the ‘Liminal’ theme, pushing Disability Tech boundaries to create a better world. From innovative design to market growth and inclusive environments, we’re proud of each moment that made this Summit unforgettable!

7. Released our Launcher Program Hype Reel

We had the best time working with some of our incredible alumni to create our first Remarkable Launcher hype reel!  

The Launcher pre-accelerator program supports early-stage startups that are improving the lives of people with disability. The 2024 program runs February to March 2024.

Applications are now open and close in just under four weeks on January 14, 2024.

8. Winners of Market Builder Award at the Australian Impact Investment Awards

Honoured to be named the Impact Market Builder of 2023 at the Impact Investment Awards! Immense thanks to our team and our incredible community of supporters. This accolade underlines our dedication to driving sector growth and fostering collaborative innovation. Congrats to all amazing nominees and winners who share this journey!

9. Welcomed three new team members

Our Remarkable team grew even brighter with the addition of three amazing new members: 

Cinthya Zurita,
Operations Manager

Kirilly Conroy
Digital Campaigns & Engagement Manager.

Zara Fulton,
Head of Investment

And there you have it, folks! A thrilling wrap-up of an unforgettable year here at Remarkable. We’re brimming with gratitude and joy as we stand at the end of 2023, looking back at the milestones we’ve achieved together.

On behalf of Cerebral Palsy Alliance, we send a special thanks to our partners icare NSW, Telstra, Vivcourt, TPG Telecom Foundation and The Ian Potter Foundation.

It’s also important that we thank the community of Remarkable supporters including our startup founders, mentors, coaches, facilitators, friends and the extended Remarkable family!

Your ongoing support for what we do has been critical for pushing us further towards our shared vision. So, here’s a massive thank you to our remarkable community— you are indeed the heart of all we do!

Until next time, keep being remarkable.

Remarkable Insights: Vint Cerf Part 2


[00:00:00] Viv
We would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands on which we record this podcast. The Gadigal people. This is their land, never seated, always sacred and pay respects to the elders past, present, and emerging of this place. Coming up on Remarkable Insights.

[00:00:17] Vint:
Yeah, there is an internet in your future. Resistance is futile.

[00:00:22] Viv:
If you’re listening to today’s episode on December 3rd, then Happy International Day of People with Disability, and welcome to the final episode of Season two of the Remarkable Insights Podcast. Today we’re excited to share part two of our chat with Vint Cerf. To start off, I’d love to know what does International Day of people with disability mean to you?

[00:00:40] Vint:
Two things occur to me. One of them is that we should be accommodating people with disabilities because there’s no reason why they shouldn’t have equitable access to all of the Internet’s capabilities. But the second thing I would want to emphasize on that day is that assisting someone with a disability doesn’t just help that person. It helps everyone that’s interacting with that person. And so if you get done doing the math, pretty much everybody in the world is benefited by any kind of accommodation because almost everyone knows someone with a disability and anything that makes them more able to work with the online environment is better for everyone, including the person with a disability, but also everyone who interacts with that person.

[00:01:32] Viv:
Yeah, it’s so powerful. And it wasn’t until you, I believe you went into your senior sort of roles within your career that you started to feel more comfortable talking and advocating about your lived experience with hearing loss. I would love to dive into that and understand that journey of how you began to feel more confident and why you needed that to be later in your career.

[00:01:56] Vint:
First of all for a while hearing aids were unusual. People didn’t have them, or the cohort that I worked with, I was the only guy with a hearing aid. There were awkward moments like, you have to change the battery, so what do you do while you’re changing the battery? And so I would concoct a little spiel to keep other people from talking while I was changing the battery, because I knew I couldn’t hear them. And then after a while I realized this is stupid to try to hide this. I’d rather have people know that I can’t hear, as opposed to thinking I’m stupid. So I got more and more comfortable by saying, look, I got hearing aids and if I may not I’d hear you if you’re behind me, or you should get my attention so I can see you and that you’re talking. So I got more comfortable with that personally, and then I got more comfortable telling other people, you know what, you should just get more comfortable telling people how to work with you, and the first question out of your mouth. Should be, how can I work with you best? How can I best facilitate our interactions and conversations? And you’ll find, I think that as long as you’re open and transparent about this, that other people will feel comfortable saying what they need as well. So I think over time I’ve become an advocate for transparency and openness, even though I do understand that. For some people, there’s a worry that if you disclose a disability of some kind, people will think you’re not really capable of being a hundred percent. We probably shouldn’t ask you to do anything too hard. Or you get the pity shtick, which you don’t want, aren’t interested in. But I’ve become a big fan of transparency because I think it aids much better interaction.

[00:03:42] Viv
And I know that Google does a really great job at promoting the work they’re doing in the DEI space and accessibility within the actual products that they offer. How does that feel for you to work with a company that is making so much noise in the space of accessibility and really driving that forward?

[00:03:59] Vint:
It has been a long journey. I’ve been with the company almost 18 years now, and it’s only in the last five or so years have we seen a real focus of attention on inclusiveness in designing and building systems that are accommodating. We even have a central team now, plus people that are scattered around in our product areas that are focused on that. It used to be a very small team. Now it’s a much bigger team. It still has a lot of work to do. And we have a lot of people to train. So one of the things that I like is that when people join the company and they’re going to do software development, we run them through some programs to expose them to the user interface question and want to remind them that that there are things they should consider when they’re doing the design so that it can be adapted to a person with color vision problems or just vision problems or maybe hearing problems or motor problems or even cognitive problems. We should be imagining how do I make this work for everybody?

[00:05:02] Viv:
And it’s such an interesting point. Working in this space and being, I call myself a Remarkable enthusiast. I just love learning about the space and I’ve been on my own journey of learning later in life that I have Autism and ADHD and coming to terms with my own sort of journey and how technology has benefited me in different ways, but also just how accessibility is this huge spectrum. That is ever- evolving and I don’t think you’ll ever perfect it, but I don’t think that’s the goal. I think the goal is to constantly be learning and being aware that you’re gonna have to keep improving. But I also get baffled why people aren’t as excited or enthusiastic about this space, especially in the tech space, and that we have to even make noise about accessibility. From your perspective, what do you think is stopping that, that sort of universal enthusiasm or awareness for why this is so important?

[00:05:57] Vint:
First of all, it’s hard work and if you don’t have an intuition about what you should do in order to make something adaptably accessible, then it’s kinda like a giant barrier. It’s having writer’s block where you’re trying to figure out how to say something and you can’t, the words don’t come out. We need several things to happen. We need for people who are designing and building these user interfaces. To get more exposure to what makes a good interface, what makes a bad one? The thing I’m dying to see are catalogs of examples of lousy interfaces and what you have to do to make them better and concrete Examples are great ways for people to ingest and learn what makes a good user interface. So you want not only to show them the difference, but explain to them. Why this other one is better? What is it that it enabled? The second thing that would be wonderfully attractive if we could figure out how to do it, would be a kind of user interface that learns from the user what it is the user needs. We need for an easy way for the user to either say or show what the user needs to make things more accessible. But we want the system to learn about methods that will make the systems more accessible so that after a while, The system begins to figure out for itself what it should do to make the interfaces work. Now, one of my colleagues, not here at Google, but elsewhere is Gregg Vanderheiden, been in this game for 30 years. He had a project called Raise the Floor, which basically says let’s make sure that the floor reaches everybody’s needs for accessible communication. He has this very clever idea. He said, why don’t you figure out a way for a person to explain to an operating system how it should configure itself to be maximally accessible for you, and then take that information and put that somewhere where it’s remotely accessible through the net. So if this particular user goes to anybody’s laptop or desktop, And is able to connect to the place that has its configuration information. They can download whatever is needed for your, any particular operating system. So it’s configured for his or her preferred interface. And so this idea of being able to essentially automatically configure a computer to meet your requirements, your access requirements is a very interesting idea. There’s all kinds of standardization that has to be done in order to achieve that objective, but it’d be really cool if you could do it.

[00:08:42] Viv:
That would be the coolest. It gets my vote. The tagline of this podcast is ‘ exploring how disability drives innovation’. What does that concept mean to you?

[00:08:53] Vint:
Oh this is actually a really easy question to answer. Imagine if you have a disability that you confront every single day, overcoming that disability. And so some of the most creative people in the world are people with disabilities, because every single day they have to go figure out, how do I do that? How do I solve this problem? Which is why I really love the idea of hiring people with disabilities because they’re really good at thinking their way through innovative ways to solve problems. I think we need to give people with disabilities more tools to help solve the problem. And we need to educate the general public and our businesses that almost everyone in the company will suffer a disability, even if it’s only temporarily, whether it’s a broken arm or a hand, or a broken leg or some other, stuffed up nose, you can’t hear all of those. Temporary disabilities will benefit from software and hardware that addresses the problem. And of course, then there are people with chronic conditions like mine. I’m chronically deaf. And having a solution to that in the form of hearing aids or special headsets or other kinds of things is very much appreciated.

[00:10:06] Viv:
This might give you an opportunity to restate what you’ve said previously, but at the end of these episodes, we’d like to invite guests to leave the listeners with a Remarkable Insight. So a piece of advice or something to think about moving forward. Is there anything you would like to share?

[00:10:24] Vint:
Yeah, there’s an internet in your future, resistance is futile.

[00:10:31] Viv:
I like it. I suppose if you’re gonna share one that’s specifically about disability tech?

[00:10:39] Vint:
What I would say to our listeners is that those of you with disabilities, please don’t be shy about being clear about what we could do to make the internet more accessible or its applications more accessible. And for people who are making those applications, please don’t forget your friends with disabilities. Make your applications accessible because you’ll benefit them and everyone who interacts with them.

[00:11:07] Viv:
Vint Cerf, thank you so much for coming on, and I’m so grateful that we got to chat.

[00:11:13] Vint:
Thank you very much and thank you for the opportunity. I really appreciate it. It’s an important topic and it’s one that deserves the attention that you’re giving it.

[00:11:21] Viv:
That is it for season two of Remarkable Insights. If you enjoyed this season, I reckon you could listen to it again, you could share with a friend or watch some of our videos on our Instagram. If any of the stories connected with you connect with us. You can follow us on our socials or head to our website and send us an email. Everything is in the show notes below, and that’s it until fingers crossed, season three of Remarkable Insights.

Remarkable Insights: Vint Cerf Part 1


[00:00] Viv
We would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands on which we record this podcast. The Gadigal people. This is their land, never ceded, always sacred and pay respects to the elders past, present, and emerging of this place. Coming up on Remarkable Insights.

[00:19] Vint
We worked together on the first paper that was published in 1974. We figured this out around 1973, in the fall. So this is the 50th anniversary of the basic concept of the internet.

[00:30] Viv
I have the absolute honor to introduce our next guest, Vint Cerf wildly known as the father of the internet, who joins us to talk about how he believes disability drives innovation. Vint, thank you so much for joining me for this episode of Remarkable Insights. If you are comfortable, could we start by you giving a visual description of yourself and the setting that you’re in.

[00:51] Vint
Yes. I liked that very much. I’m very attuned to the whole issue of accessibility. What you’re seeing is an 80 year, almost 80 year old guy with a white full beard and a bald head wearing a headset and wearing a grey pinstripe suit with a a blue shirt and a tie. The tie is a paisley black and white affair. In the background on the whiteboard is nothing secret but it is all about the interplanetary internet operation not necessarily a Google project, but a project that Google lets me work on, which I do with NASA and some of the other space agencies.

[01:38] Viv
I thought we’d start by looking back at when you first started to understand that perhaps you had hearing loss.

[01:44] Vint
I think that it was detected when I was in the fourth grade, which would mean I was about nine years old and I think that it was detected because it seemed as if I was inattentive from time to time. And so my hearing was tested and they decided maybe I should go to a special school in order to learn to lip read, or they didn’t think it was bad enough that I had to go to learn sign language or anything. So they’re gonna put me in a special class. And then there was a big debate and they said no, it would be better if I were just mainstream and I was be forced to concentrate and pay attention. So by the time I got to the seventh grade my hearing had diminished enough about 25 dB or so that I started to wear hearing aids.

[02:38] Viv
Is there any technology that’s available now that you wish you had at that age?

[02:43] Vint
No, not really. The closest we might come to something would be email, for example, but I’m not sure that it would have worked out very well in the settings of the 1950s and ’60s. It certainly did turn out to be spectacularly useful by the time 1971 rolls around when it gets invented during the Arpanet project. But I’m not sure that would’ve been useful. And the hearing aids worked very well. I’ve been able to function in a hearing world effectively, even with my hearing getting worse, the hearing aids get better. So here we are having this conversation. I have a headset on and I’m wearing my hearing aids underneath the headset and it seems to work.

[03:25] Viv
And would you say that hearing aids was your first entry point into the assistive technology world?

[03:32] Vint
Oh, absolutely, yes. At age 13, which would’ve been 1956 that’s the first exposure I had to assistive technologies.

[03:43] Viv
Wow. And when I’ve looked at the way that you were inspired by the prototypes of how the internet was shaped, I understand that your wife’s lived experience as well was also a big part of your personal passion for the idea of the internet.

[03:58] Vint
Yes and no. The whole idea behind the internet was what would happen if we got a whole bunch of computers talking to each other, regardless of who made them, was extremely interesting. These are not designed to talk to each other. How do you make it work? The other part, Bob Kahn and I pursued in our early period was what if you have a whole bunch of different networks? What if they’re radio and satellite and mobile and fixed installations, dedicated circuits, optical fiber, all this different communication capability, how do you make all that work together? That was the internet problem.

But during the Arpanet program, which started around 1968, or so and became visible to me in ’69 when I was at UCLA as a graduate student. The thing that got invented as an application very early on was electronic mail around 1971. Now, that instantly got my attention for two reasons. First of all, it meant that we could communicate without necessarily both being awake at the same time. Which meant that we could overcome some of the time zone problems associated with working with groups of people scattered around the planet. So that was one thing that was very attractive. But the second one is that reading is more precise than listening for someone with a hearing impairment. And so I was very attracted to that as a communication medium. And I’ve tended to take jobs with companies that are comfortable with using email as a primary communications tool. Google certainly falls into that category and so do the other companies I’ve worked for.

The thing which is perhaps most attractive and telling though about my relationship to the internet and my wife’s relationship to it, is that although she was not a big email user, she’s an artist, she wasn’t an engineer. Laptops and desktops didn’t come naturally to her but she did get on the internet once because someone told her that she should look into something called cochlear implants. Now this is 1996, so we’ve now been married for 30 years. The internet dot boom is underway. She gets a note from somebody in Israel aiming her at Johns Hopkins University. So she inquires ‘am I a candidate?’ She has 95 dB loss. She really can’t hear a jet plane going off in her left ear. Both ears are really bad and so she gets a note back saying, ‘why don’t you come up to Johns Hopkins? We’ll test to see whether or not your auditory nerve is still functional, even though the ciliar hairs that allow you to hear don’t work.’ So she goes up, she gets tested, she’s a candidate. Then she goes up and has the implant operation in 1996, she comes back, waits for a couple of weeks till everything heals. Then she goes back up to be activated. 20 minutes after they activate the speech processor, she picks up the phone and we have a conversation on the phone for the first time in 30 years of marriage. Not a deep conversation, but stunningly important. And by the time I get home I can’t get her off the phone. She’ll talk to anybody. She’s a 1960s teenager, so internet has become very central to her life and of course to mine for the last 50 years.

[07:23] Viv
Wow. And you are commonly referred or widely known as the ‘father of the internet’. How does that name feel for you?

[07:31] Vint
First it’s wrong because I’m not the only one. Bob Kahn and I did this project together. He started it by the way, I did not start it. He asked me to join him very early on in the process. We worked together on the first paper that was published in 1974. We figured this out around 1973, in the fall. So this is the 50th anniversary of the basic concept of the internet. And of course, we were smart about this as once we understood what it was we wanted to do, we went out and got a lot of help. And this is important for anyone who wants to do something big lesson number one, get help, especially from people who are smarter than you are. And of course, today it’s a global phenomenon.

We still have about a third of the world’s population to go to get online. So there’s lots of work still to be done, but the system has grown by something like six or seven orders of magnitude since its original implementation. And that’s quite astonishing. Normally you don’t find systems that will scale to that extent. And so I’m very happy and even proud of that. But as I say the successful implementation and the growth in new applications and everything else is a result of enormous amounts of investment by governments, by the private sector, and by literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people who are inventing new ways of using this technology.

[09:02] Viv
And was accessibility something you and Bob Kahn were thinking about when you were designing this prototype and the landscape of the internet?

[09:11] Vint
In all honesty, that was not top of mind. Although what one might want in flying an aircraft is to be able to control other parts of the aircraft, you might want voice capability to do that. Speech understanding turns out to be a very important possible alternative interactive medium. Once you can do that though, that means that you can, if you can understand speech, that means you can translate it from speech to text. If you can translate speech to text and you can show the text, which is what I’m doing right this moment my browser is actually taking the text that you’re speaking and putting it up on the top of my screen so I can see it. So there were implicit accessibility concepts that were hidden in or adjacent to the work that was going on, but I would say that my focus of attention was not so much on accessibility until I got into the commercial sector.  And at that point, without any question at all accessibility has become a very highly important element for me. Not only in the context of work I do here at Google, but even in earlier context working on the MCI mail system and on some of the other defense applications, accessibility has become a high priority.

[10:32] Viv
When you’re thinking about this and maybe some of the barriers that might exist when it comes to accessibility with the internet, if you could go back to when you were first designing it is there anything that you would change knowing what you know now?

[10:46] Vint
Actually, I don’t think so. And part of the reason for that is that it has taken this long to get to the point where we have technologies that will allow us to do some of the things that we couldn’t figure out how to do back then. Speech understanding being example, speech to text, text to speech. Image recognition. We still don’t know how to do a good job of recognizing signing, for example, of either generating it or understanding it. There’s still a lot of work to be done there.

On top of which, designing an accessible user interface requires a depth of awareness and understanding of what makes a good user interface that we don’t all have. The engineers who build the user interfaces do not uniformly understand what makes an accessible interface. It requires a certain amount of intuition. It requires even some experience with what makes a useful and accessible interface. There are pockets of places where there’s deep focus on this. I know a number of people who’ve made careers out of this, but the general run of the mill programmer who’s writing an application doesn’t necessarily have either the intuition, technical maturity, and awareness to build these systems that really will be widely accessible across a variety of disabilities.

So we still have a long ways to go to train programmers to think about accessibility at the beginning. So if there’s anything to be done, it’s to remind people when they begin designing that they should be designing for everyone, not for a fictitious 20 year old with 2020 vision and a brain that’s running 900 miles an hour.

[12:33] Viv
Hey guys, it’s Viv again. If you’re enjoying this chat with Vint Cerf I reckon you should join in for the season finale of Season Two of Remarkable Insights where we’ll be featuring Part Two of our chat with Vint and also celebrating International Day of People with Disability.

[12:45] Vint
We should be accommodating people with disabilities because there’s no reason why they shouldn’t have equal equitable access to all of the Internet’s capabilities.

[12:54] Viv
Make sure you subscribe, follow us on Instagram and we’ll see you on the next Ep!

2024 Launcher Hype Reel

Super excited to announce the launch of our 2024 Remarkable Launcher Application campaign! 


[00:02 – 00:05] Pete Beckett, Founder of Indii
Launcher is a place for Founders who want to make an impact.

[00:09 – 00:14] Urwah Nawaz, Founder of Vertere
It is a place for anyone who has the wildest ideas that they want to bring into the disability space.

[00:17 – 00:22] Sophie Li, Co-Founder of Signhow
I didn’t expect that the Remarkable program would give me so much confidence going forward.

[00:25 – 00:38] Jeremy Nagel, Founder of Focus Bear
What I found with Launcher is that I learned a lot about customer interviewing. As someone with ASD I can find going out of my way to have conversations a little bit challenging but I was able to get support from my mentor in how to structure those conversations.

[00:40 – 00:55] Urwah Nawaz, Founder of Vertere
Our idea was very much just an idea around the time we joined Launcher. We were able to gain some insights from people with lived experience with disability. We were always able to reach out to the Remarkable team. They were always really resourceful and linked us to any useful connections.

[00:55 – 1:09] Sophie Li, Co-Founder of Signhow
It offers so much richness and resources. And it identifies the gaps to take action. It gave me full access. It was just beautiful! It was like taking a breath of fresh air.

[01:09 – 01:23] Pete Beckett, Founder of Indii
Being part of a community is key to succeeding in whatever part of life but even more amazing when you’re part of a community that has that same passion for bettering this world that we live in and having a genuine impact.

Remarkable Insights: Moaz Hamid


[00:00] Viv
We would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands on which we record this podcast, the Gadigal people. This is their land, never ceded, always sacred and pay respects to the elders past, present, and emerging of this place.

Coming up on Remarkable Insights.

[00:20] Moaz
This lack of knowledge into what’s happening with disability and disappearance of the impact that disability itself had in our entire technological ecosystem. From text messaging that was first started by people with disability, to the TTY system that first started by people with disability to the T9 communication system that improves our autocorrect today and our iPhones. People forget this history because of how overwhelming and noisy our work is today.

[00:46] Viv
Mission-driven, technologist and strategist Moaz Hamid joins us to talk about his Silicon Valley journey and new mission as an investor dedicated to advancing accessibility and disability technology. Moaz, thank you so much for joining me for an episode of Remarkable Insights. If we could start, would you mind please giving a visual description of yourself and the setting that you’re in?

[01:06] Moaz
Absolutely. So I’m wearing glasses, shaved head, fully shaven actually. And a blue t-shirt, a blue shirt actually. And I am sitting in a bright lit room close to the windows in a cloudy day of Los Angeles surprisingly.

[01:26] Viv
Sounds perfect to me. I would love to be in LA right now. For people who are listening who might not know, would you mind giving us an introduction to who you are and how you got to this point in your life?

[01:38] Moaz
So I’m a technologist. I got into tech up surprisingly, at a very young age because of my mother going everywhere. She’s going around her work, she’s seeing computer, which were popping up everywhere. And she saw that I was breaking stuff in the house to try to discover how they work. And she thought to stop me from doing that to put me in a computer school so at least I know how to build the computer. But what she didn’t realize is that she put me in a coding school. She did not know the difference at the time between the two. So I ended up learning coding at a very young age that led me to have a very bright future, basically in the tech world. So I ended up working in the future of smartphone at a very young age, in a very early days of smartphone helping launch the Treo smartphone that led to me leading an investment and the launch of the HTC brand. And then shortly after it, Skype and Oprah and many of the tech that are very relevant to what we are using today and doing today. That later on, led to me, joining Microsoft to support Windows Mobile and the expansion of Windows Mobile. And then shortly after to Google to do the same with Android and Chrome OS and Google Map and Google Search Appliance and Google Apps for government. And over the last few years, I’ve been focusing my entire life in entrepreneurship and supporting entrepreneurs and helping build entrepreneurship ecosystems specifically.

[03:12] Viv
Wow. And all thanks to mum getting the wrong school.

[03:16] Moaz

[03:18] Viv
Do you think if you had told your younger self that in the future you’d be working at Silicon Valley with companies like Google and Snapchat, that you would’ve thought that is something that would suit who you are? Or how do you think that where you ended up in life aligns with where you thought you would be?

[03:36] Moaz
Yeah, surprisingly, even though I loved to open devices when I was little and I wanted to experiment with them, including opening the TV at home and trying to connect it to the speaker. And my mum came from work once and found the entire TV and pieces at home. Actually, that first internship that I got with Palm was because I bought a Palm PDA at the time. I sold my desktop to go and buy it, and then few days later it stopped working and with my best friend who was interning at Palm at the time, I tried to fix it, and when we couldn’t fix it, he didn’t know how to help me and he didn’t know what to do. The only thing he thought about was to give me the email of the CEO. So I exchanged emails with the CEO. He sent me a brand new device and gave me my first internship, but it was a very kind thing for him to actually answer a kid who just emailing him and telling him, I’m a kid, emailing you. I just bought my device and it’s not working, and I tried to fix it. I tried everything. It didn’t work. And then he responded with his assistant in CC and asked me what my address was and sent me a brand new device and then exchanged a couple more emails that led to me getting my internship with Palm.

[04:45] Viv
Your career progressed from Palm to then working with people like Snapchat, I believe, and Google and Microsoft. Working with these sort of companies, at what point did you decide that you were gonna pivot and then start your own organization?

[04:59] Moaz
My older brother was in the entrepreneurship scene already. So I was exposed to it also at a very young age. But I found Palm to be my home. I didn’t wanna ever leave Palm for the rest of my life at the time when I started working for Palm. So I started helping my brother on the side and his entrepreneurship journey while I’m working with Palm at the same time. The passion and love I had for the devices allowed me to explain, to use my best friend who was working with me at the time to become my voice in the company. So I used to explain to him about this device and issue with it and think that we could do with it. And he used to go and explain it to the rest of the team and to the rest of the company. And I really wished and hoped that for every autistic child in the world who especially ended up in the work environment, that he has this best friend and has this advocate in their company that is basically always in connection with them and always talking to them and listening to their ideas and bringing their ideas forward. Because I had really incredible ideas for my company that I just couldn’t be in the room saying to 20, 30, 40, 50 people. Sometimes while my best friend was next to me and he used to say, even if I’m in the meeting and I’m too quiet, and he said, this is the idea that I told him. And then he just described my idea and then eventually after two, three, maybe 10 meeting, I can’t remember exactly, I felt comfortable enough to, that when the team asked me ‘can you tell us more’, that I felt comfortable enough to explain to them why I like that idea.

[06:37] Viv
For people who don’t know, what is it exactly that your venture company does?

[06:41] Moaz
So I started to brainstorm and research with my colleague and classmates to think with me around the venture world and what we are doing in the venture world to impact the disability space. And to my surprise, many of them were shocked that we are even discussing this topic, the disability topic. For many of them they thought of disability as just a charity thing that we do to help people with disability. Nobody saw a business opportunity, nobody even heard about the impact that we are having today from not employing people with disability. And the lack of data also was another thing that shocked me because I was trying to find all this data within our census and our CDC and our government organisation, and I couldn’t find a lot of data was missing. So I hired a small research group led by a dear friend and a colleague her name is Jasmine. And we started working together to find this data and research this data and put more knowledge and more ideas around it. And that’s led to us having where it is today, what we’re working on today, which we call Movement Venture, MVMT Venture. So MVMT Venture is the first venture studio and a venture fund that is dedicated to make technology more accessible and reduce the unemployment for people with disability. So that’s the goal and our mission at Movement Venture. So we look for people from an idea stage and from early stage and support them through their ideas to mature their idea and make it more empowering and more accessible to more people, and then prepare them to become venture backable. And then bring them into our second firm, which is the Venture Fund, where we help fund them and take them to what’s next.

[08:31] Viv
There’s so many pieces of technology and innovation that are ubiquitous with everyday life that were created by people with disability to solve a problem or to remove a barrier they were experiencing. And now that benefits everybody. When you talk about people still seeing disability as a charity rather than a business opportunity. How is that so when we have so many of these examples that we could show people, where is that sort of breakdown in communication and awareness, and why is it still happening?

[09:02] Moaz
Yeah. So the reason it’s happening that I discovered so far is because nobody is bringing the topic of disability into the forefront of what they see every day in the news. So today, when you open the news and you open YouTube and you open anything that you get news from, you see the number one topic is cryptos and AI. There is nothing else happening in the world except cryptos and AI. And because of that and the way that people are exposed to news today it’s very limited and it’s not showing them what’s happening really in the world, unfortunately. And also with how much connected we are today with the amount of technology we have, we are even way more disconnected than how our parents were connected. And it’s completely shocking that now everyone carrying two and three iPhones and devices that connect to each other and all day messaging and iMessaging people, and they still don’t even know what’s happening in their own neighborhood. And this was not the case for our parents and our parents before them. And this disconnect of communication between us and our community is what’s resulting into this lack of knowledge into what’s happening with disability. And this appearance of the impact that disability itself had in our entire technological ecosystem, from text messaging that first started by people with disability to the TTY system that first started by people with disability to the T9 communication system that improve our auto correct today and our iPhones. That also started by the community with disability. All of these features, to voicemail, and all of this all started by the disability community, but people forget this history because of how overwhelming and noisy our work today.

[10:47] Viv
Moaz, we need you on our marketing team. We’ve got time for one last question and what we like to ask guests is invite you to leave listeners with a Remarkable Insight that could be a piece of advice or some sort of thought or question you want to leave them with to think about after this episode has ended.

[11:06] Moaz
I am seeing more and more innovation today in the disability space that are coming from small nonprofits. And this small nonprofit they discover these features and they discover these solutions for their community. And usually nonprofit in United States specifically, but probably globally also are launched by a family member who face those disability and somehow they discover the solution and they start using this solution. And because they’re not thinking global today and they’re just thinking about the community aspect of what they’re doing, they end up supporting a small piece of their community. Empowering this nonprofit I discovered that it’s going to be something that is going to be very significant to the work that we are doing in the disability space. So for everybody who’s trying to do something in the space from government to venture world, to nonprofits who are well funded, to also look for these small nonprofit who are doing small things in small communities and empower them and support to do things at scale, to bring this technology to flourish and to be in front of other people who also need them. And from that we’ll discover new innovation that we could have never imagined. And I believe completely that the space of disability will bring us the next wave of innovation that we are all desperate for. And instead of the repetitive innovation that we are seeing today in the venture world, we see the same fund funding, the same technology, same startup over and over again expecting different result when there is this whole space with new innovation and new idea that is underfunded today. That’s what I want to leave your audience to think about. And these small ways and small ideas that they might think of them as small today. They’re still worth sharing, and they could turn into something really significant.

[13:10] Viv
Thank you to our guest, and hopefully you found your own Remarkable Moment. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast and follow on Instagram at @remarkable_tech for unheard moments from this episode. Talk with you all on the next one!

Remarkable Insights: Diego Mariscal


[00:00] Viv

We would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands on which we record this podcast The Gadigal people. This is their land, never ceded, always sacred and pay respects to the elders past, present, and emerging of this place. Coming up on Remarkable Insights.

[00:18] Diego

We have to be creative, we have to be resilient, and so it is not about whether or not disabled people are going to be good entrepreneurs. The question is, do they have the right ecosystem support that are going to allow them to thrive?

[00:34] Viv

Disabled and proud, in this episode, we speak with 2Gether International CEO and Chief Disabled Officer Diego Mariscal about his mission to have disability recognized and valued as an asset for business and entrepreneurship. Diego, it’s so great to have you here. If we could start, would you mind giving a description of your visual self and the setting that you’re in?

[00:54] Diego

Sure. Yes. So I am a Latino man. With a… we were just talking about this, with a red painting behind me. The painting has a bunch of wheelchairs on it.

I am wearing a dark blue shirt and black blazer.

[01:17] Viv:

Thank you so much for joining me today and I thought we’d just start, for people who don’t, would you mind giving an introduction to who you are and what you do with yourself?

[01:28] Diego:

My name is Diego Mariscal. I am the CEO and founder of 2Gether International, which is the leading accelerator for founders with disabilities specifically. We support high growth, high impact startups that are led by disabled founders. We work with over 600 entrepreneurs all over the world. Collectively they’ve been able to raise over $50 million in less than four years. And it’s been an incredible ride.

And I will say that we’re doing it together. Some of the entrepreneurs that we work with, we’ve referred to Remarkable and vice versa. The biggest difference I see is that we’re exclusively focusing on founders with disabilities, but the mission of looking at disability as something to be proud of or something to embrace is definitely a common theme and I can’t wait to see what we’re able to accomplish together.

[02:34] Viv:

And I love that your title is CEO and Chief Disabled Officer. Can I get your perspective, these titles like Chief Disabled Officer are sort of new to some people, but I would love for you to give your perspective on the importance of what that title means.

[02:50] Diego:

Yeah. That was very deliberate. I hope that a title such as that is able to convey that whoever the next CEO of 2Gether International is, should really be a disabled person. Because really we want to signal to people that this is meant to be by and for entrepreneurs with disabilities and that there is a sense of pride and identity in having a disability.

[03:20] Viv:

When it comes to articulating the benefits to a bottom line of investing in this space. What are some the sort of the top points that you would say to people?

[03:30] Diego:

That we are the largest minority in the world in the United States. That’s about 20, 25% of of the US population and anyone can become disabled at any point in time.

More importantly though, I think that it is important to recognize that as folks with disabilities, we are innate problem solvers. We have to solve problems every day from how do we get dressed to how we drive, how we communicate and so that… often people are looking at who are the most resilient, who are the most creative, because we know that makes for better entrepreneurs. And the reality is that we have to be creative, we have to be resilient. And so it is not about whether or not disabled people are going to be good entrepreneurs. The question is, do they have the right ecosystem support that are going to allow them to thrive.

[04:30] Viv:

For me, there’s this part of a narrative, which is entrepreneurship and advocacy in this space seem to go hand in hand to some degree, but I feel that there is this greater awareness piece, which is to say that we want to get more people with lived experience driving this space as founders, as people who are the developers, designers, but is there part of the narrative where people also need to take into account that there is an exhaustion that comes with the advocacy, that we are just not factoring in that, that people having to fight for this the bare minimum?

[05:05] Diego:

That’s another deep question that I haven’t been asked before. So kudos to you for the preparedness. Even in my own life, right? Managing my own disability and managing a business I think certainly there are moments of exhaustion. What I have learned is because there’s no other option I have to prioritize my health, I have to prioritize exercising and sleeping well because if I don’t, it just compounds. Ultimately that makes me a better entrepreneur, right? Because I am taking care of my body and taking care not always in the perfect way, but who is, right? But because I prioritize care that comes with managing a disability, that makes me for a better entrepreneur.

Not everybody has that. Not everybody has the right ecosystem and the right supports in place to be able to do that. To give you an example, vocational rehabilitation services, which are state agencies that are funded by the federal government to support folks with disabilities to obtain meaningful employment. They have a reputation from being extremely difficult to work with. I have been a client and I tell this experience that they ask you what your employment goal is and I tell them 2Gether International and supporting entrepreneurs with disabilities. And then the counsellor comes back to me and says oh, I’m excited about it, to show you all these resources to help you with what you’re trying to do. And what they show me is my own website and my own resources, and I’m like, ‘you are not even reading what is it that I’m working on’. And that’s a funny story, but many times where I’ve worked with vocational rehabilitation services, I still find it extremely humiliating at times and dehumanizing because of the way people in that agency treat folks with disabilities.

And so I share that because, It’s about making sure that all entrepreneurs, but especially entrepreneurs with disabilities, have the right ecosystem around them, right? So that they are able to not just manage their disability, but manage their business in a way that compliments each other.

[07:40] Viv:

Talking about the journey of a disabled entrepreneur, is there a really common mistake that you see in the journey to… in the early stages, that you would want to speak to and give people advice of how to avoid?

[07:52] Diego:

The number one thing I see is being afraid of losing benefits, which is a very real concern. And I don’t fault the entrepreneurs for this because it is a legitimate concern. That’s why organizations like Remarkable and 2Gether need to exist, right? To be able to help entrepreneurs navigate. But for example, going back to vocational rehabilitation services, so let’s assume that I was going to college and vocational rehabilitation services was paying for my tuition. Also, as a person with a disability, oftentimes you have access to Medicaid services which covers your health insurance in the US and on top of that, you can have access to social security supplementary income if you’re making below a certain amount. 

So that’s $800 a month that you’re entitled to. And so if you’re able to utilize those services the right way or the way that they’re intended to be used, you actually have $800 in your bank account that you can start to use to fund your business. Because VR (vocational rehabilitation) services is supposed to be paying for room and board, and so your expenses should be covered. In some ways disabled people can actually have a leg up, pun intended, leg up in entrepreneurship because you know of the systems around it. That’s not to say that it doesn’t come with a taxing prize and that it’s not a difficult thing to obtain. My encouragement or my piece of advice to folks with disabilities is navigating a disability is difficult. 

Navigating a business is difficult, but you’re going to succeed not in spite of your disability, but because of the lessons that you’ve learned thanks to your disability.

[09:52] Viv:

Are there any pieces of tech that you use that allow you to have that, to keep that balance in place? And if you wouldn’t mind sharing those?

[10:03] Diego:

My computer speaks every 15 minutes to tell me what the time is. So that’s certainly one. I use screen readers all the time to read documents and things like that. For the longest time, I thought that having two laptops would be a luxury. I was fortunate enough to be able to get two laptops at one point through vocational rehabilitation services, one of which was very big and bulky, and I have been using it for years and that was my work laptop. And finally my colleague recently was like, Diego, you need to get a new laptop, you’re lagging on the video. Like you need to get a new laptop. And he must have told me 10 times. Cause it’s the impression you’re giving. 

And finally, last week I just got a new laptop and and it’s great, it’s great! Having two computers, one at home and one, one in the office. I never think about how much carrying a backpack with weight on me would make a difference. And even though I know that health is really important, this was an example of how hard work technology for me, being able to use both computers is saving me not just the weight off my backpack, but also weight in terms of stress in terms of needs and things like that.

[11:44] Viv:

I’m conscious that I’d love you to clock off and go enjoy your evening. So I just have one last question for you. We like to invite the guests to leave our listeners and people enjoying the podcast with a Remarkable Insight, and that can be a piece of advice or something you would just like them to think about after they’ve finished this episode.

[12:03] Diego:

Listening. Listening doesn’t cost us anything other than being present, and it is the number one skill that I think entrepreneurs can have because if you listen well, you’re going to pick up on what the market needs. Now, listening doesn’t always mean you have to do what the other person says. People often think that listening means, okay, I’m gonna do what you say, but really listen and be present. And you’ll pick up on some wise insights along the way.

[12:39] Viv:

Thank you to our guest, and hopefully you found your own Remarkable moment. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast and follow our Instagram at @remarkable_tech for unheard moments from this episode. Talk with you all on the next one.

Remarkable Insights: Joel Sardi


[0:00] Viv
We would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands on which we record this podcast, the Gadigal people. This is their land, never ceded, always sacred and pay our respects to the elders past, present and emerging of this place.

[0:17] Viv
Coming up on Remarkable Insights…

[00:19] Joel
And then one day they got the opportunity to come and meet him on a site visit. He said, just come out the back. I went to his office while the taxi drove me there. I was in there and I went to go to the office and there was a stair to get in, so I called him and said, ‘I’m out the back. I can’t come up the stairs’. He said, ‘yeah, just come up the stairs. I’m in here’. I said ‘ I can’t go upstairs. I’m in a wheelchair’. It’s like I told him he just won $10 million the way he responded. ‘What? What do you mean? You’re in a wheelchair?’

[00:46] Viv
Did you know the employment of people with disability in Australia hasn’t improved in 30 years, but why? Joel Sardi is part of a team of people with disability who founded and created an accessible job search site here in Australia. If Remarkable doesn’t hire me for Season 3, I might need it. Joel Sardi, hello! And please could we start with a visual description of yourself?

[01:07] Joel
Sure. So I’m sitting in my bedroom slash office at home wearing a pink hoodie. Some black over ear headphones. Sitting in front of my laptop.

[01:17] Viv
For those who maybe aren’t aware of the amazing work you do and the person you are, would you mind just starting by giving a bit of an introduction of who you are and how you got to where you are currently?

[01:29] Joel
Yeah. Okay so we’ve already touched on my name. I work for a company called ‘The Field’. The Field is an employment site built by and for people with disability, actively linking them to inclusive employers. So in essence, it is a job site built by people with disability with the understanding of some of the barriers to meaningful employment and my role now is through account management, but in the early days, it was through consulting, through my lived experience. Because I am a person with disability, I’ve got a spinal cord injury consulting on the experiences I’ve had to achieve or to actually attain meaningful employment.

[02:04] Viv
Before we dive into The Field I would love to know about your sort of opinion of the disability space and how that impacts employment and the reality of employment for people with disabilities. How that changed sort of your knowledge prior to your accident to afterwards.

[02:24] Joel
I wasn’t aware of the statistics about the one in five Australians who live with disability. I had no direct connection to disability until I broke my neck and I really didn’t see too many barriers to employment until I actually acquired my disability. And it was just one of the biggest ones was people’s misconceptions around what I could do. People put a ceiling on my capability purely because they didn’t understand disability as such. And I’ll put my hand up and say that I was probably one of those people that had a misconception about disability before I acquired my disability.

[02:56] Viv
It’s interesting because I learned about my diagnosis of autism and ADHD only in the last couple of years. And it’s been such a cool journey for me because I feel like I’ve worked in the disability space for many years, and so I’ve learned a lot about it. It’s just funny that it took me so long to realise these things about myself. But yeah, anyway, we laugh.

[03:17] Joel
How old were you when you got your diagnosis?

[03:20] Viv
Last year? 28!

[03:23] Joel

[03:23] Viv

[03:24] Joel

[03:25] Viv
But the experience on The Field was a cool thing because just in being on it, I was exposed to so many other things that I could ask for and in a job that I didn’t know I could. And I think that there is this really cool piece in what you’re doing as well, which is just creating a safe space some people don’t even know they need it yet. But I suppose I’d love to learn about how the actual creation of the tech took into account the nuances and the experience of disability and how you’ve created a website with people in a real co-design way.

[04:04] Joel
It’s like nothing for us without us. A lot of the technology advancements we see through smartphones have been born out of people’s consulting through disability, or people with disability consulting to, for example, Apple. You look at a mainstream device such as a smartphone, it’s almost now an iPhone one of the most accessible pieces of technology that exists. Similar to The Field, a lot of the accessibility features and the tech innovation that exists on The Field are there through people’s consult, through their lived experience of having disability. That is where the tech innovation lies. Long story, but that is where it lies through actually being built by people with disability and consulting, with people with disability.

[04:52] Viv
And do you find the work that you do firstly, is a lot of it virtual? And if so, Do you find that people might not know that you are a wheelchair user? And that sort of changes the tone of conversations and then they might find out later on, and then again there’s a bit of a tone change?

[05:12] Joel
That’s a really good question because I never used to introduce myself as somebody with disability or my connection to disability is this, which is something I’ve learnt and started to put into my daily routine when now working at The Field. I used to work in recruitment and there’s a classic story I share where I had an account I was managing and the guy I was speaking to for five years over the phone and it was always virtual, a hundred percent of it. And then one day I got the opportunity to come and meet him on a site visit, and I went there and he said, ‘just come out the back’. I went to his office. Well, a taxi drove me there, I was in there and went to go to the office and there was a stair to get in, so I called him and said, ‘I’m out the back. I can’t come up the stairs’. He said, ‘yeah, just come up the stairs’. I’m here. I said ‘ I can’t go upstairs. I’m in a wheelchair’. It’s like I told him he just won $10 million the way he responded. ‘What? What do you mean you’re in a wheelchair? I didn’t even know that’. And why does it matter? But yeah, that was a funny experience. For five years I’ve been talking to this guy and he never knew because I didn’t think to share it.

[06:13] Viv
And now do you choose to share it from a fairly early point and why is that?

[06:19] Joel
I do it because it’s not my identity, but it definitely creates who I am in regards to my lived experience. And given this is a job site built by and for people with disability. I’ve had direct input into some of the features on here, which have been changed a lot and updated and improved based on something I said. But yeah that’s what we’re most proud of, we’re disability led and driven, and I’m one of those people.

[06:45] Viv
So cool. And how many like what is the diversity of disability employed at The Field? How many people are on your team?

[06:53] Joel
We work with Get Skilled Access as well, they’re our sister company and I think we’re 80%, 85% disability led overall, and there would be over 45 staff.

[07:03] Viv
We’re looking at the platform that you built with The Field and it has been built with quite a diverse range of people with disability, and you’ve already had that user feedback when you’ve opened it up to a wider audience and you’ve had a greater range and diversity of disabilities that have come in and given you feedback. What does the future of that look like and how much feedback have you already gotten that’s changed the platform as it stands?

[07:27] Joel
When we built it, we could only consult with a limited number of people, although it was still a lot, as soon as we went public facing we did receive feedback from people with different disability in regards to what was accessible and what wasn’t for the platform. So we immediately took that on board and tried to adapt as much as we could in so much as release 1.1 to 1.2 to three to 1.4, so on or so forth. But I guess that’s the beauty of being a platform willing to listen and willing to learn because like I said, one in five Australians have disability and when we initially built it, it was within the confines of who we were consulting with, but now it’s public facing the country to the world really. You can access this website from another country. I guess that’s the beauty of it. It’s forever growing, forever being shaped by the user’s experiences. Tomorrow there could be someone new access the platform. Never seen it. Never heard of it, and said, ‘Hey I want this to change. I want this feature built in because I can’t access this’.

[08:29] Viv
So wonderful. And is part of the equation also eventually gonna be a bit of an education piece on the types of technology that organizations can provide that make jobs accessible to people?

[08:44] Joel
Yeah. There’s actually an opportunity on the platform to conduct microcredentials, inclusive recruiters course or inclusive recruitment strategy and the employer then entertains a badge that we give them, we certify them with. Which allows them to celebrate what they’ve learnt, what they can actually carry out in the workplace based on the training we’ve provided them. And that’s free.

[09:05] Viv
That’s awesome. And I know you also have a tool on your platform, which is an inclusive language checkup. Can you speak about the importance of that?

[09:13] Joel
Yeah. Vivien, could you give me an example of a term that would be used for somebody with Autism that’s not inclusive or offensive? Actually, don’t give me it because that’s probably not a good idea. Maybe think of a term and just imagine that the employer was writing a job description and has said that exact word and thought, ‘Geez. I wonder if I can use this? To make sure I can, I’m gonna go to this option called the Inclusive Language Tool’, which is free on The Field, click on it and it’s like a ‘Wash Your Document’ tool. You enter that word that the employer’s not so sure about if he or she can use it, and for example, for someone like me who’s a wheelchair user, perhaps it says ‘wheelchair bound’. Now the employer goes to hit check and it highlights ‘wheelchair bound’ and the word that you were thinking of as well and says, ‘Hey, we’ve noticed you’ve used these terms. They’re not inclusive because they are, they indicate that the person is bound to the wheelchair’ or they indicate that ‘this is something for somebody with Autism that is incorrect or more inclusive’. ‘ How about you try this term’ and then you can hit edit and it copies that text into the updated version. Allows you to become more inclusive. You learn along the process. That’s how we learn we make mistakes and you become more inclusive.

[10:30] Viv
Yeah. And I guess it’s an exciting element of that, of the future of how AI ChatGPT could be used on the platform to help people write in a way that ensures inclusive language.

[10:43] Joel
Yeah, ChatGPT’s got unlimited potential obviously because of what it represents, but it doesn’t understand the nuances of a country or its culture or its beliefs. So that is where the inclusive language tool is so unique because it’s built by Australians living with disability.

[11:01] Viv
That’s awesome. And we’d like to end these conversations by asking our guests to leave listeners and people enjoying the show with a Remarkable Insight. What’s something you’d like to share for them to think about?

[11:13] Joel
I think of innovation in technology as the cousin to disability because the innovation in technology is born out of people with lived experience or the way they consult with tech experts in making things accessible or ways that make their lives a bit easier. So I guess that’s my Remarkable Insight in regards to the relationship between technology and disability.

[11:36] Viv
Thank you to our guest, and hopefully you found your own Remarkable Moment. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast and follow our Instagram @remarkable_tech for unheard moments from this episode. Talk with you all on the next one.

2023 Remarkable Tech Summit: Revolutionising Disability Tech

The 2023 Remarkable Tech Summit, which is made possible by Cerebral Palsy Alliance and Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation, is a 4-day event that took place from Oct 2 – 6 in San Diego. It includes insightful panels, keynote speakers, robust debates, networking opportunities, and group workshops. And it was all geared towards one aim – celebrating and expanding the burgeoning Disability Tech landscape.

The theme for the 2023 Remarkable Tech Summit was ‘Liminal – exploring the space between the world as it knows it and the world as it could be, in disability tech and innovation.’ Within this we explored the space between:

  1. Design and innovation – How to prioritise access alongside innovation.
  2. Need and Market – Changing the narrative from charity/compliance to opportunity/market growth.
  3. Human and Environment – Shifting the burden from disabled people to advocate, to be included in a rapidly changing innovation economy.


Now for the highlights…the question is where do we begin? The Summit was teeming with brilliant moments some of which are listed below!

1. Exploring Disability, Youth & Employment

Before the Summit kicked-off we joined our friends at ATscale, hosted by UNOPS for a 1-day ideation workshop. We joined an incredible group of individuals to explore how to leverage AI-enhanced assistive tech (AT) to dismantle barriers experienced by young adults with disabilities in low-and-middle income countries. Later in the week the insights of this conversation were shared with our Tech Summit guests in a panel conversation.

A group of individuals sitting in chairs presenting a panel on stage, one person is holding a microphone.

2. Incredible speakers tackling the hard questions

What we love about the Summit is that we don’t shy away from asking ourselves hard, provoking questions about our sector and challenging ourselves to think bigger and bolder.

We had a huge range of guests join us to tackle various topics including the future of AI, equitable access to AT in low-middle-income countries, the constraints of funding models, the dangers of averages in inclusive design-thinking, risks of hustle culture and more. Below are some of our favourite quotes:

Headshot of Fernando Botelho

“If you want to do something bold, really bold, you’re going to have to redesign everything. You’re going to have to rethink the way you work with labor unions, improve training, redesign the production line. Both the equipment and the process itself. Because it’s just too ambitious for you to get it done without rethinking everything about the way you do it.”

Fernando Botelho, Assistive Technology Programme Specialist at UNICEF 
Headshot of Jutta Treviranus

“We need to upend the hierarchy of compromise because what happens is that the people at the margins are told to be happy with the pittance of change that we provide and people at the margins, such as people with disabilities, have less room to compromise because they feel greater constraints. It is the people with the most power, attention and resources that are most able to compromise.”

Jutta Treviranus, Director of the Inclusive Design Research Centre.
Headshot of Charli Skinner

“We adopt this ever familiar hustle approach and that disabled people are really forced into. We exist in this world that isn’t made for us. So we create our own Suburbans, our own tools, our own systems and our own coping mechanisms so both brilliantly and ironically, those are often the sweet spot of where innovation is arising.”

Charli Skinner, Co-Founder of SODA 
Headshot of Moaz Hamid

“We realized that there is a $146 billion impact in our economy because we are not employing people with disability today. We are not creating the opportunity for them, and we prefer to just give them a voucher and not offer any job.”

Moaz Hamid, founder and managing partner of mvmt ventures
Headshot of Diego Mariscal

“Oftentimes, particularly in the entrepreneurship space, when we think about disability, we talk about it being the source of innovation, creativity, resiliency, which all that is true. But the challenge that I want to pose to you today is that that image oftentimes is too rosy. It’s too one-sided because disability also encompasses oftentimes medical appointments, unsupported family structures, accommodations that are not received…Failing to recognize the complexity of disability puts us at risk of not supporting people in the holistic experience that they need.”

Diego Mariscal, CEO and Chief Disabled Person of 2Gether-International
Headshot of Elizabeth Chandler

“The future cannot be built upon the past. We’ve had a past that has not considered accessibility and inclusivity as part of what we’ve got the foundation of what we’re working with and trying to build off of in future innovations.”

Elizabeth Chandler, Founder of The Good Robot

3. Launch of world-first Disability Tech report 

Last year, Remarkable joined the Moonshot Disability Accelerator Initiative’s inaugural class, which is a groundbreaking alliance launched by SmartJob and Enable Ventures. We were excited to see the impact of this initiative taking shape with the public release of the world-first report looking at the Disability Innovation Ecosystem at our Tech Summit!

Developed in partnership with Village Capital, JPMorgan Chase & Co., this report analyses the global landscape for disability innovation hubs and organisations propelling the next wave of inclusive tech startups. We had Elizabeth Nguyen from Village Capital, and Gina Kline from Smart Job share some of the key insights of the report at the summit!

Headshot of Elizabeth Ngyuen

“Overall, the moral case of inclusion and disability and accessibility is becoming the business case. It’s a market size that is just too big to avoid.” 

Elizabeth Nguyen, Village Capital

3. The inaugural Solly Rodan Award

We hosted a Startup Showcase with some of our amazing #RA23 startups including Hominid X,  Springrose,  Possibility Neurotechnologies, SpineX Inc. ,  XR Navigation and Aurie.

As part of this showcase our audience voted for their favourite pitch and we were thrilled to award the first-ever $20,000 Solly Rodan Award to Nicole Cuervo, Founder of Springrose!

A group of individuals smiling and holding a large purple check and sign
Two people on stage presenting a startup pitch. Behind them is a large screen with their presentation.
A diverse group of individuals on stage smiling for a group photo.

4. Blueprint for the future

Each day included group discussions designed to create nine guiding principles for our guests to feel empowered to move forward with clarity on how to best grow the Disability Tech space. Below are a few of our favourite principles that we established together:

  1. Innovation is not an end in and of itself. In order to make AT accessible we need to focus on innovation in distribution systems AS MUCH as specific new technology.
  2. Technology needs to be designed with the most diverse input from the outset and work to ensure continuous interoperability.
  3. Move from a marketplace that suggests products based on diagnosis to one where users choose products based on their specific needs, encouraging individualization and adaptability.
  4. The AT ecosystem should have standards, norms, and facilitators that drive scalability and sustainability to bring products and services to markets quickly, efficiently, and equitably.
A young woman presenting on a stage in front of a large screen that says ‘Tech Summit: Future Lab’’

What are the next steps? 

Well, we will carry the brilliance, energy and insights from this year onwards so that we can reflect on what we’ve achieved as a community at our next Summit and will focus on these three key next steps:

  1. Investment – Off the back of the Disability Innovation Report we will be seeking investment into the Moonshot Initiative and the Disability Tech sector at large.
  2. Guiding principles – As a community we will collectively use our guiding principles to influence how we pave the future of the Disability Tech sector globally.
  3. Tap into the outliers – We will challenge ourselves to constantly check that we are using the learnings and knowledge of minorities, outliers and just as importantly our mistakes to create truly inclusive innovative solutions.

We’re excitedly seeking collaborators, champions, and partners to join us in this journey! Stay in touch by contacting us at hello@remarkable.org. Here’s to the wonders of the future!