Who We AreOur Story
Ability Revolution Inc., founded in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2017, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing authentic inclusion for people of all abilities in workplaces, educational institutions, and communities.
Ability Revolution is a movement that significantly influences the way society views people with disabilities as people with equal value, unique individuals with talents and strengths who make meaningful contributions in our communities. Our aim is to change the world by showcasing the numerous and indispensable advantages of an authentically inclusive environment. We leverage each person’s strengths and promote the diverse, collective, and reciprocal power of “us.”
Teaching Emotional Intelligence to Future Business Leaders
A 2013 research study showed that 72% of C-level executives in global companies thought that an effective 21st century leader needed a significantly higher level of emotional intelligence (EQ) skills, and they were dissatisfied about the way business schools were teaching EQ. Dr. Jennifer Camota recognized the need for a more effective way of teaching EQ skills such as empathy, self awareness, creativity, cross cultural communication, and active listening. The typical approach of assigning books, Harvard Business Review Articles, 360 degree assessments, personality tests, videos, and practice exercises were effective for short-term behavioral change, but it didn’t produce a deeper understanding and authentic appropriation of these skills.
Drawing From Past Learning Experiences
Jennifer recalled two specific experiences. When she played basketball in high school, her coach required each player at the end of every practice to attempt one hundred free throws using only their shooting hand, and occasionally, while blindfolded. The removal of crutches such as the guiding second hand on the basketball and a clear view of the basket ensured that each player focused on their total body form. Repetition of good form in an amplified way created solid muscle memory so that the action became automatic.
The second experience was when Jennifer volunteered with a group of corporate employees for a community service project to coach adults with intellectual and developmental disability (IDD) on creating resumes and preparing them for job interviews. People with IDD have a dismal 85% unemployment or underemployment rate. She observed that each mentor made adjustments in the way they regularly communicated so that they could be better understood by the people they were serving. They listened more intently, asked clarifying questions, became aware of the pace of their speech, focused on highlighting each person’s strengths and skills, gave encouraging feedback, and demonstrated patience.
Two Problems; One Reciprocally-Designed Solution
Her students needed to regularly practice emotional intelligence skills in an amplified and repetitive way. The adults with IDD needed more than a one-time session for help to find jobs – they needed regular coaching and a way to get feedback on their progress. These two groups of people had equal value, and they needed each other to develop their skills! As an experiment, Jennifer connected one group of her students to commit to working with adults with IDD weekly for ten weeks. The results were astounding!
In their reflection report, each student in the group noted that the emotional intelligence skills they practiced in an extreme environment transferred to the classroom, at work, and at home. They were able to feel how the changes they made in themselves positively impacted their relationships with their classmates, co-workers, and even their significant others. Their growth was more authentic, and their skills more transferable and sustainable, than those of their classmates who didn’t participate in this unique experience. For most of the students, this was their first time exposed one-on-one to someone with IDD, and it changed the way they viewed people with disabilities, from people who needed their help, to people with whom they could learn from and could also learn from them. This two-way learning is just one example of authentic reciprocity.
Inspired by Antonio
Jennifer, who isn’t a patient or empathetic person by nature, had plenty of practice in developing her own emotional intelligence skills over time. Her only son Antonio is finishing high school and will be going off to college in the fall. He was a member of the basketball and cross-country teams at school. His project team in his social entrepreneurship class sold candles to fund the salary of a midwife in Haiti, in their aim to make a difference in infant mortality rates in third-world countries. Antonio enjoys going to Warriors games, attending basketball camps, and playing video games. He also happens to have an intellectual and developmental disability
Creating Inclusive Environments
There are many organizations that do amazing work to advocate for and support people with disabilities to access public buildings, learn in school, find jobs, get the medical help they need, make friends, and find independent living situations. Ability Revolution is focused on working with companies, schools, and organizations to change their view of people with disabilities – from people who are different and not able, to people who have equal value in society. When attitudes and perspectives change, it initiates and accelerates authentic action in creating inclusive environments everywhere. It creates a greater power of “us.”
“Disabilities don’t restrict; environments do.” ~ Johnny Tuitel
“There is no ‘us’ and ‘them;’ there is only ‘us.’” ~ Tim Shriver