April 11, 2012
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Have you ever experienced an “aha” moment in business, but weren’t quite sure how to make it count – or where to go from here? Dana Marlowe was faced with a similar challenge when an unsuspecting computer problem and a chance in-store encounter, unveiled a rewarding business solution to help make technology accessible.
Now as the founder and CEO of Accessibility Partners, an accessibility consulting service, Marlowe has dedicated her business to helping organizations implement information technology accessibility solutions for people with disabilities.
Learn how Dana merged her passions for disability advocacy and technology and why ultimately, everything counts.
||Dana Marlowe, 34
||Silver Spring, Maryland
How I Got Started:
One Tuesday, a few years ago I walked into a random computer store to seek help on a computer problem that needed to be fixed. By chance, I happened to witness customers and staff using sign language in the store (cue the proverbial “aha” light bulb above my head). I immediately inquired and discovered that they also sold accessible IT products to the government to help employees with disabilities.
I soon recognized an opportunity to merge my two passions — disability advocacy and technology. Therefore, immediately I knew what I had to do. A week later, I went to pick up my computer from that store. I arrived in a business suit with my resume firmly planted in my hand. As I was later told, I sold myself to the owners. I was ecstatic to receive an offer.
After a few jobs in the field, my voracious passion for accessible technology never waned — in fact, it grew. I craved the opportunity to gain more experience in accessible technology. I also realized that I wanted to be hands on. As a result, in 2009, I decided to take my ideas and turn them into something concrete. I collaborated with my two colleagues, Karen Beauregard and Travis Roth, and we developed a business plan.
In retrospect, people underestimate how much planning goes into creating a small business and often leave items like business plans on the wayside. But I knew that you could only coast on your passion so far. Eventually, your shiny Mustang of an idea runs out of gas and you are stuck on the side of the road while someone with a solid station wagon with excellent gas mileage passes you.
And while Accessibility Partners has had to make pit stops since our start up in April 2009, we are still steadily cruising on the road to accessibility today.
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