Creating an Inclusive Workplace - How Tech Companies are Bridging the Employment Gap
The field of disability and employment is as dynamic as other fields, and the language of disability changes with each new generation. Leaders in technology will discuss how they encourage people with diverse abilities to thrive in an inclusive environment.
There are many factors at play in a productive and inclusive world of work: How do employees identify as a person with a disability? Disclose and request accommodations? Speak about disability in the workplace? Our panelists will share their real world examples of how creating an inclusive workplace is beneficial for the company, the community along with the current and next generation of contributors.
Director of Community Relations
Alice Turner has a multi layered role at Vista Center where she interfaces with the community at large be it clients, delivery partners, industry associations, and technology partners.
Alice came to Vista Center as a successful corporate professional due to her own vision loss, and the services she received at that time enabled her to continue her career as the Training and Development Manager for a large corporation in the bay Area. Alice is active in State and National consumer organizations for the blind, as well as leading a State-wide affiliate for guide dog handlers. Her personal mission is aligned with Vista Center’s mission, and is a passionate advocate and user of the tools and technology for the Blind.
Principal Product Owner
Sarah Caplener leads the Alexa for Everyone team at Amazon, with a focus on Alexa accessibility. The Alexa for Everyone team has released accessibility features on Echo multimodal devices including Tap to Alexa (enabling customers to make requests to Alexa without speech), Alexa Captioning (enabling customers to read text onscreen for Alexa responses), and the ability to speed up or slow down Alexa’s speaking rate by saying “Alexa, speak faster/slower”.
Sarah has many years’ experience in product management, and earned her bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from University of California at Santa Cruz.
As Principal Product Owner for Accessibility at Walmart eCommerce, Carrie has a passion for digital inclusion and universal design to drive better experiences for all customers. She has more than 18 years of e-commerce customer experience, specializing in content strategy, development and acquisition, as well as business and product strategy for digital accessibility, SEO and product detail pages.
Along with leading accessibility, Carrie also co-chairs the Teach Access companies task force and co-chairs the inABLE associate resource group at Walmart, which promotes inclusion for people of all abilities.
Blindness Product Specialistt
Rachel has worked in the Access Technology field for over 7 years. She graduated with a counseling degree from Bob Jones University. Before joining Humanware, she worked in the San Francisco Bay Area at the Hatlen Center as a braille and technology instructor for transition-age students. She created curriculum for clients that would assist them as they sought to improve their braille and technology skills.
She joined Humanware in January of 2018 as the Blindness Product Specialist covering the West Coast region. In this position, she travels and trains individuals on the use of the BrailleNote Touch and other blindness-specific products. Through the medium of in-person workshops, phone support, and training via the Zoom platform, Rachel can interact with many teachers and students to show them the advantages of using braille and Humanware technologies. She is passionate about the advancement of technology and is a strong advocate for its use as it enriches all our lives.
Head of AI & Research
Adaptive Technology Services (ATS)
Anirudh Koul is a noted AI expert, author and a former scientist at Microsoft Research, where he founded Seeing AI, often considered the defacto app amongst the blind community.
He serves as the Head of AI & Research at Aira, noted by Time Magazine as one of the best inventions of 2018. With features shipped to a billion users, Anirudh brings over a decade of production-oriented Applied Research experience on PetaByte scale datasets. He has been developing technologies using AI techniques for Augmented Reality, Robotics, Speech, Productivity as well as Accessibility.
Some of his recent work, which IEEE has called ‘life-changing’, has been honored by CES, FCC, Cannes Lions, American Council of the Blind, showcased at events by UN, White House, House of Lords, World Economic Forum, Netflix, National Geographic, and applauded by world leaders including Justin Trudeau and Theresa May.
Silvana Rainey is an accomplished San Francisco business woman, co-founding and building a successful company, Adaptive Technology Services which operates nationwide. One of the key services provided by Silvana is the technology evaluation. This service often takes Silvana into an employee’s work environment to identify the most appropriate technology for an accessible workplace. With a background in teaching, Silvana has designed and implemented a variety of training programs, and is a sought after teacher, speaker, and technology consultant.
Silvana is co-founder of Employmentlink California, a non-profit organization, which advocates for and supports those living with disabilities seeking or retaining a job. In addition to serving as President of Employmentlink California's board of directors, Silvana has served on the board of Best Buddies, Lion’s Center for the Blind, and City of San Francisco Communications Task Force.