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Debra Ruh

  Employability & Technology


Ruh Global by Debra Ruh

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I have had an interesting career and am grateful to follow my passion for inclusion of people with disabilities in every aspect of society. I have been consulting in the ICT Accessibility and Disability Inclusion industry since 2001 and recently founded a new consulting firm, Ruh Global, which will focus on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities via Digital Marketing and Communications.  

Ruh GlobalRuh Global provides innovative yet personal marketing and communications consulting with a superior level of expertise and a strong professional reputation. Our services span communication channels, including mobile, social media, websites and digital media, email, direct mail, sales activities and call centers. The firm will design and implement targeted marketing and social media programs that reach and resonate with the disability community while complementing and extending an organization’s current communication efforts. We will also partner with other PR, Marketing, Branding and Communications firms to assure people with disabilities are included in marketing campaigns.

In 2001, I founded TecAccess, one of the leading providers of accessible Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) and Section 508 compliance for the largest and fastest growing minority group – Persons Living with Disabilities, Baby Boomers and Veterans with Disabilities in the world. It is always interesting creating a new business because there are so many ways to fail. The reality is that there are many potholes and ways to take a false step, and there was no roadmap to create the kind of business that I envisioned - a for-profit technology firm which could thrive by hiring a diverse group of technologists many with disabilities.

Most of the team members at TecAccess were people with disabilities who were hired because they were uniquely qualified to be accessibility testers, trainers and consultants. Over 80% of our team had disabilities, including individuals who were blind, or had vision loss, were deaf or hard of hearing, had CP, MS, MD, TBI, Down syndrome, autism, severe depression, bipolar, quadriplegia, paraplegia, and many more. To say we were a diverse group of individuals is an understatement.

TecAccess merged with another ICT Accessibility firm, SSB BART Group (SSB), in April 2011 and I took on the role of Chief Marketing Officer for SSB. The decision to merge the two companies was an easy one to make, as SSB very successfully had a similar culture and also employed a diverse staff that included technologists and project managers with disabilities. Although I greatly enjoyed working for SSB, I eventually decided to step back out on my own in late 2012 with the full support and blessing of the SSB executive management team. I created my new company, Ruh Global, to focus on strategic marketing and communications to help ensure the community of persons with disabilities is included in a meaningful way in every aspect of society with a special focus on employment.   

It is believed that 1 in 3 American families are impacted by disabilities. This is an enormous market, but still a very confusing one to many corporations. This market has many stakeholders, including not only persons living with disabilities, but also their parents, children, spouses, siblings, extended family, and friends. As part of a family that has been impacted by disabilities, I believe that Ruh Global has the ability to have a unique and empowering voice. My daughter Sara Ruh was born with Down syndrome in 1987. At the time, she was the first person in our family with a disability. Sara’s positive influence has given us the ability to have a unique and empowering voice. 

An individual who is considered a thought leader in the disability community once told me that the stakeholders without a disability were often much more insistent that their loved ones be included and have equal access than the actual person with the disability. I believe he is correct, because it has been my observation that people will often fight for another person’s rights more passionately than their own.  

I believe we all have abilities and disabilities and it is time to move from a deficit/charity only message to a message of empowerment.  

“SSB BART Group and TecAccess share the same commitment to ICT accessibility, and both firms recognize the value of employing people with disabilities, as well as the value of their subject matter expertise when working with clients to achieve compliance both with the technical and functional requirements of leading accessibility standards.  We wish Debra Ruh great success with Ruh Global and look forward to collaborating with her on future projects.” Tim Springer, CEO of SSB BART Group. 

“When I merged my company The Bartimaeus Group with SSB Technologies in 2005 it was a natural fit because each firm brought different strengths to the table.  When TecAccess and Debra Ruh joined us in 2010 it added yet another layer of diversity to the firm.  It has been a pleasure working with Debra.  Her passion for the value and inclusion of people with disabilities is inspiring and infectious (so much so that the two of us are writing a book together about using Social Media to follow your passion). I believe it is this passion that makes her such a fantastic marketer for the disability community.” Mary Smith, Vice President of SSB BART Group.

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