CES 2024: Tech continues to open doors for people with disabilities in the workforce

Keely Cat-Wells, founder and CEO of Making Space, joined WorkingNation at CES 2024 to share her thoughts on the potential impact of tech on the way we work and live

Making Space uses its tech platform to help companies identify, train, and access talent with disabilities. Founder and CEO Keely Cat-Wells says, “There are a lot of stereotypes around access requirements and accommodations, and just misconceptions around accommodations.”

Cat-Wells joined WorkingNation’s editor-in-chief Ramona Schindelheim for WorkingNation Overheard at CES 2024 in Las Vegas to share her thoughts on using technology to open workforce doors for an often overlooked talent pool.

Cat-Wells – who offers that she has a hidden disability – says employers are often afraid to make accommodations for people with disabilities. She recounts that she started Making Space after disclosing to her employer her own disability – after which, she was told she no longer had a job.

She says companies are fearful about what’s involved with making accommodations for people with disabilities – and workers are often afraid to self-disclose to their employers.

Cat-Wells says, “I come from the media and entertainment side and, oftentimes, within that space, disabled people are depicted as one of three things – villains, victims, or inspirations. That has led to society thinking that disabled people can cannot do certain things, are scary, are inspiring for just going to the grocery store.

“All of these misconceptions have led to the workforce not employing disabled people. So that’s one thing we are working towards. We have built a tool and a feature within our platform that turns our lived experience of disability into transferable skills and professional strengths.”

She notes, “We set it off by partnering with large companies like Netflix and NBCUniversal to create education that’s specific to open roles that they have.”

Learn more about Making Space.
Learn more about CES 2024.

Funding for WorkingNation Overheard at CES 2024 was provided, in part, by Walmart.