People with disabilities are included in school communities from pre-school through high school. Like their peers without disabilities, these young adults finish high school ready to continue their education, find meaningful jobs, make new friends and find a good place to live.
But when people with disabilities leave high school, they have almost no access to the regular experiences of work, fun and life that those without disabilities take for granted. Plus, a lack of day-to-day disability awareness by businesses and communities about how to interact successfully with people who have disabilities puts them at a major disadvantage.
JJ's List has launched to change this. Inspired by the Web site's can-do philosophy, visitors review the disability awareness of businesses at www.jjslist.com "Any business can be reviewed for everything from service to workplace for people with disabilities," says JJ Hanley, Founder and Executive Director. "That can include things like welcoming, flexible and respectful customer service to people with disabilities, or whether they are physically accessible, or whether they have employees with disabilities."
Other consumer review-directory Web sites on the Internet are Angie's List and Yelp. But JJ's List is the first and only review network of its kind specifically designed to meet the needs and interests of the underserved and growing population of people with disabilities, their families, friends and co-workers.
Since its grassroots launch in March, visitors have posted almost 300 reviews of businesses in 47 Illinois communities - plus a few in Wisconsin and Iowa - about experiences shopping, traveling, dining, living, learning, working and having fun at local businesses, services and organizations. Then they recommend - or not - a business as a Bridge Builder business for the Disability Aware Directory, a search-able listing of businesses, organizations and services that have been reviewed for disability awareness and/or have committed to incorporating disability awareness into their day-to-day service.
"I want to change the world with my reviews," says one visitor with cognitive and physical disabilities.
Businesses struggling to attract customers in the worst recession in decades, have a new way to attract this loyal customer base that has discretionary spending power of more than $175 billion annually. By enrolling at JJ's List as Bridge Builders in the Directory they can promote their disability-aware features, "like physical accessibility, specially trained staff, products and services for people with disabilities or hires people with disabilities," Hanley says.
More than 50 Chicago-area businesses have already enrolled as Bridge Builders in the Directory.
"The mission of JJ's List is to create positive interaction and communication between businesses and people with disabilities," Hanley says. "Working with that philosophy, everybody wins."
Information about Bridge Builder listings at www.jjslist.com or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org