WeCo is a UX-based digital accessibility consulting firm which works with private and public organizations to verify their websites and software are accessible people living with a wide range of disabilities. They seek a wide variety of individuals, representing all types of disabilities and computer-use capabilities, to work as usability-focused Certified Test Consultants. Their test consultants assist their clients in fully understanding real-life accessibility from the user’s view. WeCo also employs a team of technical professionals who also live with disabilities, to work as Accessibility Specialists to develop and deliver accessibility testing and training products designed to ensure the most comprehensive user-experience testing results for their clients.
Working with WeCo provides individuals who are often overlooked by traditional work environments with the opportunity to deliver powerful user-experience based testing services to our clients. It also helps these individuals to grow as confident, effective professionals. Whether they choose to remain with WeCo as Test Consultants or Accessibility Specialists, to go on to start their own business enterprise, or move on to another work place, the skills individuals obtain from working with WeCo can equip them for fulfillment in a variety of business environments.
Lynn founded WeCo (The Wehrman Collaborative, LLC) in 2011 with a group of individuals living with disabilities who worked with her on the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Americans with Disabilities Act Transition Plan digital efforts. As one of the first State of Minnesota employee to pioneer accessible digital document and website processes, she’s watched both government and private industry struggle to respond to the growing demand for digital accessibility. Realizing that the user living with disabilities was often left out of the process, Lynn envisioned a company that would help the digital professionals access the user as a subject matter expert and result in a professional career opportunity that is often denied people who live with disabilities.
A practice I learned as a very young direct sales person early in my career: selecting the 6 most important things I am going to do today in a separate list from my project management software and following it. Accepting that you will never completely climb the mountain of tasks it takes to run a business, is also part of keeping my daily sanity.
Being a mega extravert, I love the community of people I run into in the skyway every day. For lunch, I tend to gravitate towards Sprout or Freshii. For dinner or happy hours, I like the old classics, Oceannaire Seafood Room or McCormick’s and Schmick’s.
More than 90% of our staff live with a disability that has resulted in many of them being overlooked in the employment process. Often times these very bright people acquire advance degrees, simply because they need something to challenge their minds and stave off the boredom of existing at home while living on entitlement programs. This means that we have a highly intelligent, very educated work force that has also been socially isolated for at least a portion of their adult lives. Assemble, like our previous collaborative office space, Joule, exposes our staff to variety of people with varying professions and backgrounds. They make friends, go out to lunch and happy hour, and really grow in ways that would be more difficult if our group rented an isolated office space. It has worked so well for us that we often wonder if we could do without it. Also, it’s very common for digital marketing firms to realize what we do and run to us when a client comes to them with a request for Section 508 or Americans with Disabilities Act compliant software or website. Doing business with our office mates has also been another big plus.
Breath, slow down and look around and make a difference.
You are your own biggest hurdle to success. Stop being afraid and move forward, even if you aren’t 100% sure of where you’re going.
Watching the magic that happens when a client realizes that they are totally capable of making their digital venue accessible. Watching this happen while they recognize that people living with severe disabilities are people, just like them, and also a subject matter expert they can depend upon, is the cherry on top.
At this level in our company growth, I work very hard to not work on the weekends. I’m a closet jazz pianist and vocalist, love camping, hiking and running.
A sales director I used to work for used to say, “If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you’re right.” Our own failure, and success, pretty exists only between our ears. Though these can make success happen faster, it’s really not a matter of money, education, connections or intelligence. Once I understood that, I got over it and got on with it.