John Samuel is one of those rare individuals who you hear about on the news or in inspirational stories, but never think you’re going to come across in real life. Not only has he achieved much in his life so far, he has done so under extremely difficult circumstances. After discovering that he was going blind whilst in college, John was able to forge ahead and work in various foreign countries like India and Cameroon, doing everything from corporate finance to working for a cell tower company. However as time went on and his blindness worsened, John realized that he could not hide his disability from his future employers, and that he would increasingly need accessibility aids in order to live his daily life. After many hurdles and setbacks, John has landed back here in North Carolina where he grew up, and has launched ABLR, a joint venture with Walk West, a digital marketing agency here in Raleigh.

ABLR is a digital accessibility and inclusion company here in the Triangle, that has a mission to make digital content accessible to all, with no exceptions. Among the issues that ABLR looks to address are that not only is accessibility a constant barrier for people with disabilities, it is often not even considered by companies producing the products that we all use on a daily basis. It is the difference between proactively considering the needs of those with disabilities, rather than retrofitting, often with mixed results, those products that are now staples of everyday life. 

ABLR aims to remove barriers for people with disabilities in order for them to access jobs, entertainment, technology, and much more. Their goal is to combine technology and humanity, both for entrepreneurial and business purposes, but also because getting rid of those roadblocks in accessibility is for the betterment of society. Focusing on accessibility here at Raleigh Founded is imperative because we are home to many companies and early stage startups producing the products of the future. The more work that is done in the early stages of a product’s development, the better off the product, and the company, will be in the future. 

For much of the past year, there has been an increased focus on diversity, equality, and inclusion here at Raleigh Founded. Raleigh Founded wants to build upon our current efforts as an organization to support all people, no matter who they are or their circumstances. This includes promoting accessibility for those with disabilities within our spaces, and also encouraging our members to do the same. 

John currently lives here in the Triangle with his wife and two children, and he loves to connect with people on Linkedin and Instagram(@johngsamuel). To learn about ABLR and what ABLR is looking to do here in the Triangle and beyond, be sure to listen to the podcast here and check out ABLR360.com.

By Caroline Brinkley