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. Registration is now open. *CRC Credits Available Upon Request

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 Is Celebrating Its Third Annual National Disability Employment Awareness Month. "Disability: Part of the Equity Equation," recognizes the vital role people with disabilities play in making the nation's workforce diverse and inclusive. Why should disability be part of the equity inclusion equation? One in four individuals worldwide has a disability Disability is cross sectional across all other areas of diversity. *CRC Credits Available Upon Request.

  Scroll below to read about this year's keynote speaker and panel of experts

Meet our Host and Panelists!

Kathy West-Evans Keynote Speaker

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

a white Female with short blonde hair and glasses looking into the camera smiling

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 – Panelist

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

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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 ( 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 Ogunyipe – Panelist

Executive Director of the Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission

An African American man with suit and tie smiling into the camera with a US flag in the background Benro Ogunyipe served for 6 years as president, vice president, and chair for the board of National Black Deaf Advocates. In 2014, and again in 2016, U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Benro to the National Council on Disability. He is a seasoned lecturer at the University of Illinois and has over 18 years of experience working in Reasonable Accommodations and investigator of the ADA/Section 504 Discrimination Complaints for the state of Illinios.

Andrea Flaim – Panelist

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

a white female with shoulder length dark hair standing facing the camera and smiling with a city view in the background 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!

Black colored chalkboard background. Text reads "NDEAM Disability: Part of the Equity Equation". Mathematical equation of a circular photo of a woman in a wheelchair working at a computer with colleagues, followed by a plus sign, followed by a square image of a woman who uses crutches viewing a document with a colleague, followed by an equal sign, followed by a light bulb icon.