Blue color background with a person holding a tablet device

2021 Kessler Foundation Virtual Grantee Symposium

Hiring on Autopilot: How to Prepare Yourself and

People with Disabilities for AI Employment Practices

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

12pm - 1:15pm ET

Registration information:

Free and open to the public, pre-registration required

head shots of three women and one man


Join us at our 2nd virtual symposium to continue our discussion on how artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the world of work for people with disabilities. As recent advances in AI streamline the hiring and onboarding process for employers, these tools are becoming more popular in screening applications and evaluating job candidates. Data sets used to develop AI learning, such as facial recognition, employment history, trait testing, and gaming often do not include the experience of people with disabilities and other marginalized populations, leading to bias in hiring practices. Our expert panel will cover understanding and planning for the risks and opportunities that AI technology brings to the users, job types most affected by AI, and how to prepare and use this technology successfully for online interviews and accommodations. Whether you are a job-seeker or a professional working within the employment and disability field, this webinar will help you navigate the new AI employment landscape.

Meet the Speakers

Head shot of Debra Ruh


Debra Ruh is a Global Disability Inclusion Strategist, Market Influencer, internationally recognized keynote speaker, published author, branding expert, successful entrepreneur, and an exceptional mother. Debra is host of a popular program: Human Potential at Work (Audience in 92 countries and 113 Regions). She is also an author of three books, Inclusion Branding (available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Voice via Audible), Tapping into Hidden Human Capital and Finding Your Voice Using Social Media. Debra is a recognized global influencer, frequently interviewed by various media outlets and she has gathered a significant presence on many social media platforms, with over 400,000+ followers across all mediums. Debra is co-founder of the award winning #AXSChat one of the world’s largest tweet chats with over 8 billion+ tweets.







Head of Heather Dowdy


Heather Dowdy currently leads Partner Strategy for the Microsoft AI for Accessibility grant program. Heather is responsible for nurturing the growing number of global partnerships with startups, researchers, and NGOs and providing grantees with resources to scale the impact of technology for people with disabilities. With fifteen years of experience developing and demonstrating accessible technology in mobile, web and artificial intelligence, Heather Dowdy is passionate about connecting the dots across disability, race, and tech. As the oldest daughter of Deaf parents, Heather is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL). She loves using the design thinking process to create solutions that empower marginalized communities and improve usability for everyone. A strong believer in empowering communities through education and benevolence, Heather is the co-founder of Microsoft Ninja Camp and a Board member of deaf kids CODE, providing STEM leadership training to high school students with disabilities.





Head shot of Frances West


Frances West is an internationally recognized thought leader, speaker, strategy advisor, and women-in-technology executive known for her work in innovation, technology and business transformation. Her human-first approach to leadership and focus on digital inclusion comes from her journey as a first-generation, non-English speaking immigrant and her career as a technology executive including IBM's first Chief Accessibility Officer. Frances is an appointed faculty instructor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Massachusetts in Boston for recognition of her work in accessibility, research and digital inclusion. She is author of "Authentic Inclusion™ Drives Disruptive Innovation" and founder of FrancesWestCo, a global strategy advisory company focused on operationalizing inclusion as a business and technology imperative.








Head shot of Neil Milliken


Neil Milliken is Global Head of Accessibility at Atos, an invited expert for the W3C Cognitive Accessibility Taskforce, member of the Atos Scientific Community & Atos Distinguished Expert. He is co-founder of #AXSChat Europe’s largest twitter chat with a focus on Accessibility & Inclusion. Neil is a member of the Board of Directors for World Institute on Disability, Non-Exec Chair of the Board at Genius Within, and Chair of the Diversity Board for Institute of Coding. Neil was named in the top ten of the Shaw Trust Disability Power 100 list in 2018 and was named D&I practitioner of the year in the 2019 Disability Smart Awards. Neil is dyslexic and has ADHD. He advocates for people with neurodivergent conditions as well as other disabilities and additional needs.








About Kessler Foundation Virtual Symposium

Celebrating 15 years, our symposium series creates opportunities for Kessler Foundation grantees, thought leaders, and other professionals working in the disability employment field to learn, meet and exchange ideas on current disability employment innovations and issues.


For more information contact: [email protected]