Founded by Electrical Engineering and MEng Design grad Areeb Khawaja, AccessResolve is streamlining disability accommodation requests into a simple, fast and compliant system for all parties.
The new start-up at The Forge at McMaster University is also winning some major top prizes for their innovation and helping job candidates on the accessibility front.
Start-up competitions nationwide are taking note of the revolutionary potential of AccessResolve. The team received top honours from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, NS, winning their March Madness Pitch competition this past month. AccessResolve earned the top prize in a competition featuring 64 student entrepreneurs from universities across Canada.
AccessResolve were the second-place winners ($10,000) in The Forge’s Startup Survivor Pitch competition last fall. Since then, The Forge has been working with Khawaja to propel AccessResolve to success.
“Getting accepted to the Forge’s Startup Survivor program was a game-changer for us,” said Khawaja.
Khawaja created AccessResolve to modernise the inefficient, paper-based accommodation systems in place. With AccessResolve it is no longer necessary to spend months processing requests and to force the individual with a disability to jump through hoops and have the same conversations over and over across departments. Instead, this secure platform hand-holds employees through the process of requesting accommodations and provides stakeholders with easy tracking and analytics.
“We felt there needs to be a better way to preserve people’s dignity and also facilitate employee accommodations and streamline it in a faster way, and this is why we created AccessResolve. This platform is an HR software that streamlines the communication process for all of the stakeholders in the accommodation process. So now, a person with a disability can simply submit an accommodation request through the online portal, it will go to their HR manager, and they’ll be able to view and track it,” said Khawaja.
He added, “And then they’ll also be able to tag any of the requisite stakeholders who can view the accommodation request, instead of calling the employee or calling up the HR manager and getting bits and pieces of information and getting lost in that. So, this was digitalization of an antiquated paper based process,” said Khawaja.
Every year in the United States alone there are over 24,000 disability-related lawsuits, costing $200,000 on average per employer. By modernizing one of the most antiquated components of achieving an accessible workplace AccessResolve minimizes the risks for employers and employees. When Khawaja began work in disability advocacy, the most common complaint he heard was in regard to the process of requesting workplace accommodations.
“The greatest barrier to creating an accessible and inclusive workplace environment isn’t funding or some sort of assistive technology, it was the process of requesting workplace accommodations. People with disabilities that we spoke to would describe their experience requesting an accommodation as being long, confusing, and even un-dignifying. And for employers, being able to provide a more accessible work environment is important for workplace culture, productivity and employee retention” said Khawaja.
AccessResolve has partnered with the Employee Accessibility Network (EAN) and Career Access Professional Services (CAPS) at McMaster, and they received the McMaster Okanagan Grant. The EAN incorporates peer support, consultation, and strategizing, and was formed in response to provincial accessibility legislation. The McMaster Okanagan Grant is awarded to unique, creative, and impactful project proposals to improve the well-being of the campus and wider community.
Visit them online and discover how this new start-up at The Forge is helping make the world a better place for persons with disabilities and businesses and organizations across Canada and beyond: www.accessresolve.com
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Publicist for AccessResolve & PR Mentor at The Forge, McMaster University