Upcoming Events

HKS’ 3rd Annual National Disability Employment Awareness Month Event 2022

Oct 13 - Oct 13, 2022


Headshots of 3 women and 1 man smiling

HKS’ 3rd Annual National Disability Employment Awareness Month Event 2022

Helen Keller Services is celebrating its 3rd annual National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) event! Save the date to join our nationwide virtual event on October 13th at 2PM EST.

#NDEAM Video Transcript: We are so excited to share with you that we will be hosting our third annual National Disability Employment Awareness Month webinar, In October- please check out our website for more information at www.helenkeller.org. We look forward to having you join us. End of transcript.

The US Department of Labor’s theme for NDEAM 2022, “Disability: Part of the Equity Equation,” recognizes the vital role people with disabilities play in making the nation’s workforce diverse and inclusive.


Helen Keller Services National Disability Employment Awareness Month. A panel of experts share their experiences of employment of individuals with disabilities.


Kathy West-Evans smiling at the camera. She has short blonde hair, glasses, and is wearing a suit jacket.

Kathy West-Evans – Keynote Speaker

Director of Business Relations, Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR)/ National Employment Team (NET)

The keynote speaker is Kathy West-Evans, the Business Relations Director for the National Employment Team (NET) which she established under the umbrella of the Council of State Administrators for Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR). Kathy has a vocational services background and spearheads the development of corporate business relationships throughout the country while coordinating disability inclusion and hiring consulting for all 70 national state vocational rehabilitation offices.

Kathy West-Evans, is from the State of Washington and has her MBA from Seattle University, a BS from the University of Washington, and is a CRC who is fluent in American Sign Language. She has been in the field of rehabilitation since 1978. She started her professional career working as a vocational consultant and manager of the Projects with Industry (PWI) program at the Hearing, Speech and Deafness Center in Seattle and moved into the Washington State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) in 1983 as a VR counselor for consumers who are deaf, DeafBlind or hard of hearing.

In addition to her time as a VR counselor, she worked as an assistant regional administrator, a regional business relations specialist, and the Statewide Manager for Business Relations and Marketing. In 1997, Kathy moved to the federal level with the Region X office of Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) where she worked until July 2005. Kathy was employed as an RSA VR Program Specialist, serving as the State representative to Oregon and Alaska as well as the regional specialist in the areas of employment and business development, the ADA, training, CSPD, PWI, and services to individuals who are deaf, DeafBlind or hard of hearing. She served on the planning committee for the RSA – CSAVR National Employment Conferences in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2004. Kathy is the co-founder of the ACCESS – conference, job fair, technology and resource expo for business and people with disabilities held annually in the Seattle area since 1994.

Debra Ruh standing and smiling at camera. She has chin-length wavy pink hair and is wearing a blue and white tank top. Her left hand is on her left hip.

Debra Ruh

Ruh Global IMPACT, CEO / Founder Billion-Strong, Executive Chair / Co-Founder

Debra Ruh is a global disability inclusion strategist, technologist, market influencer and global ambassador for seven organizations including the UN and US State Department. She’s published three books, Inclusion Branding, Tapping into Hidden Human Capital, and Finding Your Voice Using SocialMedia.

She focuses on Accessibility, Smart Cities, and the intersections of inclusion especially persons with disabilities.

In early, 2000 she created an award-winning technology company, TecAccess, focused on digital inclusion, and accessibility- 90% of here team were technologists with disabilities

Debra also hosts a popular Podcast: Human Potential at Work which has an audience in 92 countries

Convinced that “the real disability is being unable to see human potential” Debra formed Ruh Global IMPACT in early 2013 focusing on Global Disability Inclusion Strategies, Digital Marketing, and Branding.  Ninety-two of her team are professionals with disabilities.  In 2021, Debra founded, a global nonprofit called Billion Strong (www.Billion-Strong.org) to focus on global disability identity and empowerment.

She’s proud to serve on the board of directors and board officer for World Institute on Disabilities (WID) – (2018 to Present).  Board of Advisors for AI in Women and Ethics and three Forbes Councils.

She’s a widely recognized social media influencer including 7,300 followers on Twitter and in the first class of LinkedIn Creator Accelerator Program with a $20,00 donation to Billion Strong.

Benro smiling into the camera wearing a black suit and white dress shirt

Benro Ogunyipe, MPA

Executive Director of the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission

Benro T. Ogunyipe is the Executive Director of the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission. He served for 6 years as president, vice president, and board chair of the National Black Deaf Advocates, Inc. He previously worked for the Illinois Department of Human Services as Senior Accessibility Specialist, Reasonable Accommodation Specialist, and Investigator of the ADA/Section 504 Discrimination Complaints for 17 years.

In 2014 and again in 2016, U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Benro to the National Council on Disability. Benro was also appointed by three different Illinois Governors to public bodies and was an appointed board member of the National Association of the Deaf. He is a seasoned guest lecturer at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Disability Studies and Columbia College Chicago’s Interpreter Training Program on Multicultural Issues.

Benro received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Gallaudet University and a Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) degree from DePaul University, School of Public Service.

Andrea Flaim smiling at the camera and standing outside wearing a black shirt and sunglasses on top of her head. In the background there are city buildings and trees.

Andrea Flaim

U.S. Blind Low Vision (BLV) Program Manager at Amazon

Andrea Flaim is the U.S. Blind Low Vision (BLV) Program Manager for accommodations and accessibility at Amazon.  She began her Amazon journey five years ago working in fulfillment centers as an HR Business Partner. She found her passion for helping her associates in many capacities but specifically when it came to medical accommodations. Andrea joined Amazon’s Disability and Leave Services team where she helped to identify some of the very first accommodations for those who are blind and working in operational/fulfillment center settings. With a team lead and colleagues and she was able to help build the team focused on making the workplace more accessible and inclusive for all, including the blind and low vision community.

Register Now!

National Disability Employment Awareness Month


For event questions, you can email mfu@helenkeller.org