In order to gain a different aspect of Section 508 Compliance, I wanted to gain key insight from an industry expert. One such expert is Debra Ruh founder of TecAccess and now Ruh Global.
Question 1: Debra, as we both know there is much work to be done in the world of Accessibility. Can you tell our readers why you became involved in Accessible IT?
Answer: I was always a technologist and my Dad was a technologist before me. My father passed away in late January 2013 and we will miss him. My dad gave me the technology bug before there really was technology. He worked for AT&T and ran their computers – the computer was the size of a huge government building. Probably now that computing power that he managed in that huge facility would fit on a tiny thumb drive. My daughter Sara Ruh, 25 years old and born with Downs syndrome inspired me to start TecAccess. I knew Sara who was capable of great things, even though some experts claimed otherwise. So I decided to prove them wrong, I created a path to empowerment and success for those with disabilities. I founded TecAccess to acknowledge the contributions of people with disabilities in both the workplace and the marketplace and provide accessibility consulting solutions to companies around the world.
Now I look forward to taking our work to the next level with Ruh Global. Sara joined me as my CIO (Chief Inspiration Officer) and I will be partnering with many other firms to help spread the word that inclusion, accessibility and diversity is critical for everyone. The world is a better place when we can all contribute and each person should be allowed to contribute to their fullest abilities. In-Accessible technology should not get in someone’s way of working and participating in society. We still have a lot of work to do but I am hopeful that we are on the right track.
Question 2: So what ideas do you have for us to more effectively get the word out to CIO’s in order to get them to embrace Accessible IT?
Answer: I believe that the only way to move our industry forward is to blend accessibility into the Life Cycle processes. As long as Accessibility is an afterthought we will not be able to blend it into the process. We need to make Accessibility part of the process just like Security and Privacy. We also need to teach accessibility in colleges and universities. Not just one web accessibility course but accessibility should be in all ICT and engineering courses. No one should graduate with an ICT or engineering degree without understanding how to assure Accessibility in every aspect of Life Cycle.
Question 3: What would you advise a company just starting down the path to accessibility? Do you take care of the internal documents and applications so you can hire Americans with disabilities, or do you begin with your external facing website to ensure access to your information and the company’s message is reaching the largest audience?
Answer: Great question – I always advise clients to look at their goals.
- Are their goals to employ a diverse population? Then be sure your career center, job site and HR processes are accessible.
- Is your goal to do business with the Federal Government? Then start by making your products and website accessible and 508 compliant.
- If your goal is for Americans to believe your firm is socially conscious than create an inclusion program with marketing programs that include people with disabilities in your advertising, social media outreach and other communications.
Where you start all depends on your goals and that is why I create a road map for my clients to help them prioritize, reduce their risk and create a step by step plan that has tasks, timelines and deliverables.
Question 4: Debra, Thank you so much for taking the time to inform our readers about 508 Compliance and the important role it plays! Please take a moment to tell us about your new venture and what we should expect in the near future.
Answer: Ruh Global is a Strategic Marketing firm that allows organizations to connect and integrate the community of PwD and their families. Our services will enable corporate and public organizations to easily navigate the legal maze and confusing messages about and from the community of PwD.
Our goal is enable business success through innovative marketing and communications programs that are:
- Strategically and creatively aligned with corporate goals
- Seamlessly integrated across traditional and digital mediums
- Tailored to the specific needs of each client
- Scalable with measurable results
- Delivers integration of messaging for all customers, not separate but equal opportunities for different diversity groups
People with disabilities (PwD) represent a very large demographic group that is underserved within typical marketing and communications programs. Ruh Global can help adjust those plans already underway or help to develop new plans that fully integrate this community into the messaging to create universal customer experience and the best overall business value for their marketing and communications investments.
I will still be active in the ICT Accessibility field because it is critical component to the success of including people with disabilities in every aspect of society especially in meaningful and marketable employment.
Thank you again Debra for your time! Stay tuned for our next post about Section 508 Compliance!!