Debra Ruh

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Debra Ruh
Born 1958 (age 58–59)
Pensacola, Florida
Nationality American
Occupation Businesswoman, advocate, writer, speaker
Years active 1994-present
Organization TecAccess, LLC, Ruh Global Communications, AXSChat

Debra Ruh (born 1958) is an American business woman and advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities. She founded TecAccess, which provides software development, training, and consulting services designed for information technology accessibility for people with disabilities and Section 508 compliance. The technical solutions that her company implemented for Canon's voice activated photocopiers won an award from the American Foundation for the Blind in 2007. She started Ruh Global Communications, which focuses on strategic communications and digital marketing. Ruh is co-founder of AXSChat to generate discussions about accessibility.

Ruh is Chair of the United Nations's G3ict EmployAbility Task Force that supports information and communication assistive technologies and has assessed 104 countries regarding the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.[1] Ruh and her company have received a number of awards, including the Department of Labor's New Freedom Initiative Award for her efforts to help people with disabilities build careers.

Career[edit]

Early career[edit]

In 1994, Ruh was hired by SunTrust Mortgage, now Crestar Bank, and worked into 1998 as vice president of training, development and quality control.[2][3] Beginning in 1998, she worked as a banking consultant until 2001, and was at Market Street Mortgage in Tampa, Florida as vice president and distance-learning dean until 2000. She started Strategic Performance Solutions and was its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) from 1999 to 2001.[2][4]

TecAccess[edit]

Main article: TecAccess

In 2001, Ruh founded Strategic Performance Solutions[5] or TecAccess,[2] a firm that designs online learning tools and websites for people with disabilities.[6][7] An example of assisted technology is software that reads the text to help a person that is blind navigate through the site.[4]

It created a voice-recognition feature for Canon's ImageRunner series, which won an award from the American Foundation for the Blind in 2007.[4] In October 2005, TecAccess was one of the recipients of the United States Department of Labor's New Freedom Initiative Award.[8][a] That year, Ruh received the "Rising Star" award from the National Association of Women Business Owners.[2][b]

In 2006, the company had $2.5 million in sales to governmental agencies and businesses. The firm's clients have included the Department of Education, the Internal Revenue Service, Hewlett-Packard, and the Patent and Trademark Office.[6]

Ruh trains individuals with disabilities so that they may find employment. For instance, by 2008 she training and found jobs for 30 disabled Iraq veterans.[4] TecAccess was in the Fed Top 100 by Federal Computer Week.[2][c]

Ruh Global Communications[edit]

In 2013, Ruh started Ruh Global Communications,[10] which focuses on strategic communications and digital marketing. The firm's objective is to help corporations strategically include People with Disabilities and help governments implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).[11][12]

A map of parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as of 2012. Parties in dark green, countries which have signed but not ratified in light green, non-members in grey.

Ruh, the Chair of the UN's G3ict EmployAbility Task Force, spoke June 16, 2016 at the 9th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Ruh was one of the speakers that discussed data collected by G3ict (Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies) and Disabled People’s International (DPI) in 104 countries. They planned how to use that information to meet their 2030 goals for education, employment, poverty reduction and information technology.[1]

AXSChat[edit]

Ruh co-founded a social media venture - AXSChat (access chat) with Neil Milliken and Antonio Santos.[13][14] It is a social media site about providing access and inclusion to those with accessibility needs. It operates through Twitter chats and video interviews[14] to discuss ways to be more inclusive or how to use technology to provide greater accessibility.[15] It was an event partner for the Paralympic Games in 2016.[16][17]

Writer and speaker[edit]

Ruh was coauthor of Helping Veterans with Disabilities Transition to Employment with Paul Spicer and Kathleen Vaughan in a 2009 edition of Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability.[18] She also advocated for fair pay, and her testimony was given before a Congressional Hearing of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions regarding A Fair Share for All: Pay Equity in the New American Workplace on March 11, 2010.[19]

She is part of panel discussions,[20][21] like "Disability-Inclusive Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)" for the United Nations program on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3, 2014. Other members of the panel were Penny Hartin of the International Disability Alliance, Ambassador Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota with a Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations, Kartik Sawhney of Stanford University, and Kamal Lamichhane a Research Fellow of JICA Research Institute.[22]

In 2016, she wrote a book, Tapping into Hidden Human Capital: How Leading Global Companies Improve their Bottom Line by Employing Persons with Disabilities.[23] As of 2016, her white paper, Information Technology Accessibility: Yes We Can! and Making the World of Technology Accessible brochure are on the White House website. They are two of about fifty posted documents in the Open Government Initiative.[24][25]

Personal life[edit]

Ruh was born December 18, 1958, in Pensacola, Florida. She is married to Edward Ruh and has a son and a daughter,[2] who was diagnosed with down syndrome.[6] On February 19, 2010, Ruh and her daughter Sara were featured on an ABC News story, A Powerful Mother-Daughter Relationship, that aired in San Francisco, California[26][27] and New York. Sara has traveled with her mother and spoken about accessiblity and hiring people with disabilities. She had delivered keynote speeches around the country, including the Virginia Special Olympics.[26]

Edward, who worked in an IT department of a bank, joined TecAccess in 2006 and worked there for one year. He returned to TecAccess in 2008 and managed relationships with clients. Their working relationship featured in The Wall Street Journal article, "Married to the Job (And Each Other)" in 2011.[28]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In 2005, she was on a "Disability News and Views" radio program with the Dr. Roy Grizzard, the assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy. They discussed employment issues for the disabled and adaptive technology.[9]
  2. ^ She was also the recipient of an award for Social Responsibility from the American-China Foundation in 2005.[2]
  3. ^ She was one of the top ten success stories of the Small Business Administration[4] and received the "Trailblazer Award" from the National Association of Women Business Owners in 2007.[2] In 2007, she also noted for her work in advocacy by Enterprising Women magazine and received an award for Community Support by Northrop Grumman.[2] It received an Innovative Business award by ANCOR Foundation in 2008.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "9th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)". United Nations. June 2016. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Debra Ruh of TecAccess". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Richmond, Virginia. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  3. ^ "Lenders Scramble for Talent to Handle Refi Rush". American Banker. November 2, 1998. Retrieved December 3, 2016 – via HighBeam Research. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Hise, Phaedra (September 15, 2008). "Why disabled techies rock". CNN Money. Retrieved November 29, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Virginia Web Firm Plans to Help Make Sites Accessible to the Disabled". Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. August 27, 2001. Retrieved December 3, 2016 – via HighBeam Research. 
  6. ^ a b c Rayasam, Ranuka (November 6, 2006). "How Hiring the Disabled Means Good Business". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on January 13, 2010. Retrieved July 20, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Company Overview of TecAccess LLC". Bloomberg. Retrieved December 2, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Secretary of Labor Announces Seven Recipients Of the Secretary's New Freedom Initiative Awards". Department of Labor. October 2005. Archived from the original on January 16, 2009. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Events for the Disabled". The Buffalo News. Buffalo, NY. July 10, 2005 – via HighBeam Research. 
  10. ^ "NBDC Co-Sponsors Georgetown's Conference". Viscardi Center. December 31, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  11. ^ "October Is National Disability Employment Awareness Month". National Disability Institute. October 3, 2016. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Corporate Capabilities". Ruh Global Communications. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  13. ^ "The Team". AXSChat. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  14. ^ a b "14 quotes that celebrate a more accessible world". Chicago Tribune. May 26, 2016. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Tweet chats". Symplur. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Nielsen shares key research on the power of the Paralympic brand". Paralympic.org. September 14, 2016. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  17. ^ "Paralympics - Q&A: Neil Milliken, Co-Founder, AXSChat". Sportcal. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  18. ^ Griffin, Kimberly A.; Gilbert, Claire K. (January 2015). "Better Transitions for Troops: An Application of Schlossberg's Transition Framework to Analyses of Barriers and Institutional Support Structures for Student Veterans". The Journal of Higher Education. 86 (1): 71–97. Retrieved December 2, 2016. 
  19. ^ Pensions, United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and (2012). A Fair Share for All: Pay Equity in the New American Workplace: Hearing of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, United States Senate, One Hundred Eleventh Congress, First Session (March 11, 2010). U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 63, 66, 119. 
  20. ^ "Talent Matters: Leveraging Disability-Inclusive Outreach & Recruitment Strategies for Housing and Quality Services". Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion. June 30, 2016. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  21. ^ "Opening pathways into 'unusual' employment for persons with disabilities" (PDF). International Labour Office. April 26, 2016. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  22. ^ "International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December 2014". United Nations. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  23. ^ "October Is National Disability Employment Awareness Month". National Disability Institute. October 3, 2016. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Making the World of Technology Accessible" (PDF). White House. 2009. Retrieved December 3, 2016. [dead link]
  25. ^ "Open Government Initiative: Your Ideas". White House. Retrieved December 3, 2016. [dead link]
  26. ^ a b "A Powerful Mother-Daughter Relationship". ABC 7 New York. February 19, 2010. Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  27. ^ "Show Archive for 2010 - February 19, 2010". Retrieved December 5, 2016. 
  28. ^ Debaise, Colleen; Needleman, Sarah E.; Maltby, Emily (February 14, 2011). "Married to the Job (And Each Other)". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 

Further reading[edit]