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AXSChat Podcast

Author: Antonio Santos, Debra Ruh, Neil Milliken

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Podcast by Antonio Santos, Debra Ruh, Neil Milliken.We’re an open online community of individuals dedicated to creating an inclusive world; we believe that accessibility is for everyone.Social media has great power to connect people and we hope to accomplish and encourage in-depth discussion and spread knowledge about the work people are doing to enable greater access and inclusion through whatever means.We host weekly interviews and twitter chats with people who are contributing to making the world a more inclusive place through technology or innovating to enable wider participation in society for people with disabilities.The topics will be wide-ranging and we want to encourage discussion and ensure everyone has a voice on social media so we encourage you to take part by tweeting and using the hashtag #axschat
74 Episodes
 Rosemary Musachio’s life has been based on miracles and dreams.  Like any other birth, Rosemary’s was a miracle but with a twist.  Since she developed cerebral palsy at birth due to brain damage, Rosemary was presumed a vegetable by the doctor who delivered her. Yet, another miracle happened when Rosemary proved that doctor dead wrong.  For every limitation she has, she has been able to overcome it in one way or another.  Although she cannot walk, she dances in her wheelchair to music.  Although she cannot talk, she uses a word board to communicate quite eloquently.  Although she cannot use her hands to perform daily tasks, she uses a head pointer to type on a keyboard.Despite all her challenges, Rosemary has been able to accomplish a great deal during her life so far.  She has made many of her dreams come true, one of which was becoming a writer.  A year after graduating Cleveland States University Magma Cum Laude with a B.A. in Communications, she became a monthly columnist for Sun Newspapers in Cleveland, Ohio.  Her column, Bit of a Challenge, was the paper’s most popular column, running for ten years.  She also had articles published in The Plain Dealer and Italian Gazette.  Additionally, she edited and published two monthly disability-related newsletters, The Able Informer and Ability Age.  Issues still roam around the Internet.  In her spare time, Rosemary writes poetry.  In fact, one of her goals is to publish a book of her poetry.Besides establishing herself as a writer and a poet, Rosemary has pursued another dream of traveling and setting new heights…literally.  She has visited Italy (5 times so far), Germany, Austria, France, and Spain.  During one of her visits to Italy, she even met the Pope!  She also has a daredevil spirit.  Several years ago she did tandem hanggliding in Ridgley, Maryland, where she went up twice at 2500ft and 5000ft.  A year afterwards she took a ride on a customized motorcycle through eastern Metroparks and Chagrin Falls in Ohio.  She even rode horses on a dude ranch in Colorado.  No wonder her motto is “If you don’t accept challenges, you are not living.”In September 2001, Rosemary saw an ad by TecAccess, a Virginia-based technology company, in a disability newsletter.  It needed web testers, so she applied for the position.  That commenced her fifteen-year career as an electronic and information technology (E&IT) accessibility analyst.   Besides TecAccess, she also has worked for two other similar companies.  Working for those companies has allowed Rosemary to present at major disability conferences including California State University, Northridge (CSUN), United States Business Leadership Network, and National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA).Now that Rosemary is the Chief Accessibility Officer for Ruh Global Communications, she has realized another of her dreams.  She is following her father’s footsteps since he was a local public relations man.  She also loves the creativity that is involved in being a marketing specialist, crafting content and developing campaigns to convey important messages and ideas to the world.  Particularly, Rosemary wants to help persons with disabilities like herself get their voices heard loudly.When people say how inspiring Rosemary is, she shakes her head and rolls her eyes.  Of course, she is humbled by and grateful for the compliment.  Yet, she feels there’s nothing inspiring about living life to the fullest despite disabilities.  Ironically, her parents and friends have been Rosemary’s inspirations.  Without their love and support, she might have ended up where that doctor at the naval hospital insinuated to place her. 
 Elaine Katz oversees Kessler Foundation’s comprehensive grant making program and its communications department. During her tenure, the Foundation has awarded $49 million for national and community-based employment programs. Katz works with non-profit organizations in board development, fundraising, marketing, and business development. She serves on the boards of JESPY House, New Jersey Association of People Supporting Employment First, Essex/Newark Disabilities Issues Committee, and program committee of the Council of NJ Grantmakers. She is an appointed member of Empower NYC Advisory Board, Workforce Matters National Steering Committee, ReelAbilities NY Advisory & Council, ReelAbilities 2020 Selection Committee and the NJ Veterans and Community Collaborative Network (VCCN). Elaine served as a member of the Human and Children Services Transition Advisory Committee for Governor-elect Phil Murphy. Elaine received the Community Access Unlimited 2019 Humanitarian Award, 2016 GI Go Fund Jackson Drysdale Civilian of the Year Award and the 2015 Betty Pendler Award from Community Options, Inc. 
 Dr. Rachele Hendricks-Sturrup is a health scientist and Health Policy Counsel at the Future of Privacy Forum. Dr. Hendricks-Sturrup’s work involves exploring and addressing ethical, legal, and social issues and implementation barriers at the forefront of health policy and innovation. Her research centers on generating best practices for the use and processing of health and genetics data across the patient-consumer spectrum.
After graduating from the Vienna University of Economics, Michael Fembek (born 1961) joined GEWINN, an Austrian business magazine, serving between 2000 and 2007 as editor-in-chief.In 2009 he initiated “Sinnstifter”, a project by Austrian philanthropists, and launched the annual Austrian CSR-Guide on corporate responsibility. In 2010 he joined the Essl Foundation as Programme Manager and – until 2014 – the bauMax group as its Head of Social Affairs.Since 2011 he is the Director of the Zero Project, a project of the Essl Foundation, and organizes the annual Zero Project Conference in the UN Headquarters in Vienna.In 2014, he co-initiated the Verband für Gemeinnütziges Stiften, the Austrian philanthropic association, where he serves as Vice President. In 2015, he became the Chair of the Thematic Group on Disabilities within the European Foundation Centre (EFC), in 2016 he co-initiated the Haus der Philanthropie in Vienna, and in 2019 he co-initiated the Sinnbildungsstiftung, a foundation focusing on innovations in education, and now serves as a Board Member.
Kate Nicholson, JD, is a health policy and civil rights attorney and a nationally-recognized expert on the Americans with Disabilities Act . She served in the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division for 18 years, where she litigated and managed cases, coordinated federal disability policy, and drafted the current ADA regulations. Kate developed intractable pain after a surgical mishap left her unable to sit or stand and severely limited in walking for many years. During those years, she used opioid pain medication integrated with adjunctive therapies in order to continue to work and function. She gave the TEDx talk, What We Lose When We Undertreat Pain, and speaks widely at universities and conferences and to physicians groups. Kate has published pieces on this topic in The Washington Post, the LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, the Miami Herald, the Hill, and STATnews, among others, and is writing a book. She has appeared on public radio, Stand Up with Pete Dominick, and The Roy Green Show, and has given interviews to Fox News, Vice, BBC, and others. She is Co-Chair of the Chronic Pain/Opioid Task Force for the National Council on Independent Living and was recently appointed to the Opioid Workgroup of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She regularly collaborates with drug policy, civil rights, disability rights and pain awareness organizations. She is also a 2019-20 Mayday Pain & Society Fellow. Kate was a Senior Fellow at Dartmouth College and is a graduate of Harvard Law School.  
 Antony has been part of the AT industry since 1999, working with manufacturers, publishers, standards organisations and service providers to deliver first class products and customer experience.In addition to being the co-founder and CEO of Aventido Limited, he has also provided volunteer support for the British Standards Institute, co-created ATEC (the Assistive Technology Exhibition and Conference), been Chair of BATA, and is the first co-Chair of the newly formed DATEurope.In 2015 Antony was elected Chair of BATA (the British Assistive Technology Association), a UK membership organisation for AT publishers and manufacturers, service providers, the Assessment community, Trainers, AT users, and Blue-Chip organisations. BATA campaigns for the rights and interests of those needing Assistive Technology, working in collaboration with Government departments such as the Cabinet Office, the Home Office, DfE and DWP.During his tenure at BATA, and recognising the changing commercial and political landscape in Europe, Antony has worked with colleagues from the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy to found DATEurope – a new European association to represent the digital assistive technology industry.Antony has presented on the advancement of assistive technology and the AT industry at events such as ATIA, BETT, ATEC, OneCPD, ATF Switzerland, and The Workplace Health and Wellbeing Show. 
Nataliya is passionate about an idea of creating a partnership between AI and human intelligence, fusion of a machine and a human brain. She obtained her Ph.D in 2015 in the domain of non-invasive Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) as a part of EHCI team of Université Grenoble-Alpes, France. Most of her projects are focused around EEG-based BCIs in the context of consumer grade applications. Before joining MIT Media Lab – Fluid Interfaces group in 2017, she was a post-doc at Hybrid team (VR/AR), Inria Rennes, France. Nataliya has published and served as a program committee member in conferences and journals such as Nature Scientific Reports, CHI, ACM IDC, Ubicomp, INTERACT, TOCHI, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Plos ONE, IEEE EMBC and ACM AutomotiveUI. She gave 2 TEDx talks. Nataliya worked for the past 12 years on designing solutions to control drones, rolling robots, home appliances using brain activity. These projects were presented to general public and were tested by more than 4000 people in 2015-2019. Nataliya won multiple awards for her work, among which is L’Oréal-UNESCO Women in Science award she received in 2016. Nataliya was also named as one of 10 Top French Talent 2017 from MIT Innovators Under 35. 
 Kate is the world’s leading authority in ‘Networkology’.  The science behind the growth of workplace networks and resource groups. In April 2014 her book ‘Secrets & Big News’ was published tackling the issue of ‘disclosure’ of disability and what employers can do to help people be themselves at work.  Kate launched PurpleSpace in October 2015 as the world’s first and only professional development hub for disabled employee networks and resource groups. In 2017, Kate created #PurpleLightUp, the global movement that celebrates and draws attention to the economic contribution of the 386 million disabled employees around the world. 
Matt is the founder of Kakana, a ground-breaking streaming fitness platform for people of all abilities.  Matt previously founded Fitbound and Nvision.  He is also the founder of Fitbound for All, a non-profit that’s mission is to impact the health and well-being of individuals with and without disabilities and make sure all individuals have the opportunity to be included in the health and wellness conversations. Matt is an experienced entrepreneur with a history of creating cutting-edge fitness content, having founded four companies over the past decade.Resides in Washington, DC
Married to Jennifer and father of two children Georgia & Noah, and as a family, Michael enjoys travelling, going to the theatre and cinema, as well as live music and scouting events. He first became interested passionately in health service provision when his son was diagnosed with Autism in 2009. The following year, Michael was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease the following year and quickly became involved in the sphere of rare disease as well. Living as a family with disabilities also fuelled his passion for social enterprise and he formed the first disability reviewing website in the UK – This allows disabled people to add access reviews of places they have been to or hotels they have stayed in and more importantly offered employment to disabled people in Northern Ireland. Being interested in policy, he became a patient member of the Royal College of GP’s and was quickly asked to join policy groups at the Department of Health and currently chair a group working with patients in the co-production of Multi-Disciplinary Teams for primary healthcare. In 2017, he was awarded an MBE for services to the disabled community in Northern Ireland and appointed chairman of the Centre for Independent Living Northern Ireland. Most recently he launched AccessoLoo, which is a mobile high dependency restroom (changing places) facility for outdoor events, which will offer inclusion, with dignity for those people with disabilities that require a toilet at outdoor festivals.
Originally from the Los Angeles area, Joan started her career with KPMG before relocating to Paris, France where she embarked on a 25+ year international career with Disney. A seasoned commercial finance executive, with a CPA, she has held leadership roles across a wide range of businesses – from Film Distribution & Acquisitions to Consumer Products & Retail – at both the Regional and local office Market level, working in Paris, London, Amsterdam & Brussels.In 2016, inspired by her son, Joan launched “Dysnie” a Social Intrapreneur venture geared toward empowering Dyslexic children to unlock their potential through innovative & inclusive product, inspiring content and community engagement. An eye opener and total game changer, Joan is now taking the professional leap into Social Innovation. In 2020, she was awarded a Fellowship from the Aspen Institute focusing on increasing business value and making the world a better place.
   Simon Minty has delivered consultancy, training and public speaking in the field of diversity, specialising in disability, since early 2000s. Based in London, his work is international. He works with many clients from a small NGO to a multinational corporation. This international work has helped Simon develop a broader under-standing of different cultural approaches to disability. He also has a creative side, helping im-prove the portrayal of disabled people in media and has worked with BBC, Channel 4, Endemol Shine, All Three Media, Warner and Sky. He’s produced numerous videos and co-produced and performed in the sell out Edinburgh Fringe comedy show Ab-normally Funny People in 2005 and 2015. Abnormally Funny People performed virtually for London’s Southbank Centre in 2021 via Zoom. He co-hosts two podcasts, BBC Ouch! and The Way We Roll. His client list is substanAal and includes BBC, Barclays, BriAsh Council, Buckingham Palace, Google, Lloyds Banking and Open Society FoundaAon. In addiAon, Simon is a Non-execuAve director of Motability Opera>ons. He is on the board of The National Theatre and is a trustee of Improbable Theatre and of StopGap Dance. He is an Ambassador to the Business Disability Forum and Busi-ness Disability Interna>onal. He also helped establish the Disability Media Alli-ance Project in California. Simon has a Post Graduate diploma in Dis-ability Management at Work and a BSc (Joint Hons) in Philosophy and Sociology, both from City University in London. A keen traveller, he won the Travel X Travel Writer of the Year 1999 – Best Television Feature for his Channel 4 travel pro-gramme in China. In 2016 GQ named him as one of the 100 best connected men in the UK. He has fea-tured on the Power 100 List of disabled people for many years. He has personal experience of disability being of short stature and limited mobility. He uses a mobility scooter for distance. 
 Sarah Stites is the Development Officer for Caritas Aregak Foundation, an organization devoted to supporting young people with disabilities in Gyumri, Armenia. Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, Sarah is passionate about communication, human dignity, cultural exchange and empathy.   Their primary fundraising needs right now are for three projects, in order of highest - lowest need (in other words, we have more potential fundraising possibilities for projects 2 and 3 than we do for 1): 1. Renovation of our bakery's cellar2. Special activities and therapies for children with autism3. Rehabilitative care for wounded soldiers  They have written proposals for all three projects, but currently no special "fundraiser" sites.They have a general donation button on our website. We also have ongoing fundraisers on my DonorSee page here. 
Paul Carter is a journalist who works as senior producer and technology reporter for the BBC. He was born without lower arms or legs. He has produced BBC Newsnight, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Travel Show and is a regular member of the team at BBCCLick the flagship technology show for the corporation.Click has a worldwide audience of around 80 million and is shown on BBC News and BBC Worldwide.  The show regularly covers accessibility and inclusive technology and has a yearly special on accessibility.Paul cares about technology, diversity and accessibility but is keen to point out that his role is reporting on all technology not just disability specific tech. He was involved in the BBC Leadership Development Programme 2020You can find Paul on BBC iPlayer or on Twitter
 Andy Imparato began work in February as the Executive Director of Disability Rights California (DRC) after a high impact career in Washington, DC in disability advocacy and policy. DRC is the federally funded legal services agency that serves Californians with all disabilities across the age spectrum.  While in DC, Imparato served as the Disability Policy Director for Chairman Tom Harkin on the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and as President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities, among other roles.  Since joining DRC, Imparato has worked in coalition to protect vital programs and services for people with disabilities and older adults and to prevent discrimination on the basis of disability and age as the State develops crisis care guidelines for rationing ventilators and other limited resources in response to the pandemic.  He grew up in Southern California and is a graduate of Stanford Law School.  His perspective is informed by his lived experience with bipolar disorder. 
 Tara Moss is a Canadian-Australian author of 13 books of fiction and non-fiction, a documentary maker, and an outspoken advocate for human rights and the rights of women, children and people with disabilities. She is an Edna Ryan Award winner and UNICEF Australia’s National Ambassador for Child Survival, and has visited hospitals, maternity wards, refuges and schools as well as Syrian refugee camps in her UNICEF role. In 2014 she was recognised for Outstanding Advocacy for her blog Manus Island: An insider’s report, which helped to break information to the public about the alleged murder of Reza Barati inside the Manus Island Immigration Detention Centre. As a disabled woman and ambulatory wheelchair user diagnosed with CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome) after a hip injury in 2016, Tara has used her public profile to help de-stigmatize disability, chronic illness and chronic pain. In 2020 she accepted the honorary role of Pain Champion with Pain Australia. In the media and through her page ‘Tara and Wolfie’ (named for one of her first mobility aids), she brings advocacy and visibility to issues of disability and chronic illness, and the need to normalize mobility aids. Her latest book is the internationally best-selling novel The War Widow, featuring feminist 1940s PI Billie Walker and her disabled war vet assistant, Sam Baker. 
The James Emmett brand is one of the most recognizable in the field of disability inclusion. James has worked on many of the most visible disability inclusion initiatives with companies like Walgreens, Best Buy, Office Depot/Max, PepsiCo, and Mercy Health. James is the Founder of James Emmett & Company ( that provides disability inclusion services to major companies.  He helped plan & execute initiatives that have resulted in over 80,000 jobs for people with disabilities and numerous awards for innovation related to company-owned disability inclusion. James’ career vision is to forever change the business and disability communities by helping hundreds of companies create disability inclusion brands. 
On this episode of axschat, Antonio Santos, Debra Ruh and Neil Milliken do a short review of 2020 and changes occurred in relation to accessibility and future of work
 Diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of nine, Abi has used computers and technology to help her succeed throughout her education and in employment. Driven by her own experiences Abi has spent the past 2 decades working to make technology accessible and inclusive for everyone including leading R&D projects into assistive technology innovation and supporting organisations in the public, private and education sector to meet digital accessibility standards and embed inclusive design. She also collaborates with researchers and policymakers to identify best practices for developing assistive technology, improve accessibility standards and regulations.Abigail JamesAbi recently joined the accessibility the Digital Accessibility team at Barclays, responsible for ensuring that the bank’s digital services work for everyone, including disabled customers or colleagues.Barclays has been actively pursuing an accessibility programme for several years and has a public ambition to become the most accessible FTSE company, sharing what works with other businesses. They’re focused on leveraging inclusive technology that enables and empowers everyone to work, bank and reach their full potential. Barclays has seen that their investment in accessible services and support for disabled and older customers has helped hugely during the COVID crisis as customers increasingly do their banking digitally and staff work from home. Abi will be discussing some of the additional support Barclays has added in response to COVID, include proactively contacting potentially vulnerable customers and prioritising them in telephone banking queues or offering cash delivery services and volunteer shopping devices to help customers who are shielding at home pay carers. She will also be reflecting back on how this exceptional year has affected digital channels which has seen millions more customers using more features on their online banking website and mobile banking app and focussed the need for digital banking to be accessible for all.  
"I’m Bianca Prins, Global Head of Accessibility at ING Bank. I’m working on disability inclusion and an accessible ING for all. Ever since 2010 I’ve been working as an activist for disability rights in The Netherlands. My role was political advice impacting new disability legislation. In 2015 the UN CRPD was signed by The Netherlands, that year I started my journey at ING. I started with the disability hiring program ‘Unknown Talent’ as Environment and Social Risk Advisor within Global Risk. My European activities in Brussels, in my advocacy role, showed me the opportunities for disability Inclusion. When I got the question to write a plan for accessibility I jumped on, and before I knew I was pitching for our CIO and found my new role within ING. My world of disability inclusion really opened when I visited my first M-Enabling Conference in Washington. The possibilities I had been reading about became reality, meeting other accessibility leads in global businesses. It was also the moment to realize we’ve got a long road ahead. Because the European market differs quite hugely from the US market when we talk about accessibility and disability inclusion. Ever since, I’ve been working on the masterplan to roll out one global accessibility strategy for ING customer and employees. Making sure we include the disability community in our business and employment, both from a market perspective as well as hiring the best avaible talents.Key advice: Just start with projects as you go, as we did with the accessible card in 2017. After a small test with ING customers we got advice improving our card, and this led ING Netherlands to launch the first accessible ING debit Card in April 2020.Key lesson: accessibility is not just HR; accessibility belongs all over the place!My biggest question: the effect Corona brings to accelerate accessibility and disability inclusion, and risks when business do not include disability inclusion?"
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