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My name is Debra Ruh, several years ago, I decided to create a technology company - Strategic Performance Solutions now named TecAccess ( www.tecaccess.net  ) that would employ persons with disabilities. Technology has a way of leveling the playing field. There are many technology positions that can be done regardless of a disability and sometimes a person with a disability can perform certain technology positions better than a non-disabled person.

The employment opportunities are bleak for the disabled, recent statistics show the unemployment rate for persons with severe disabilities are as high as 68%.

Companies are often reluctant to hire people with disabilities because they fear the unknown, the cost of accommodations for the person with a disability, and absenteeism. However, the reality is that people with disabilities have excellent attendance records, a great work ethic, and strong loyalty to their employer.

TecAccess was founded and is operated by Debra Ruh and Steve Timmer. TecAccess ( www.tecaccess.net ) is a dynamic software development and consulting company specializing in Accessibility.

The two founders of TecAccess are Steve Timmer and Debra Ruh.

Steve Timmer is the CIO and president and is legally blind. Steve began developing software products out of necessity for him to perform his job after he started losing his sight. Steve has over 15 years experience in both the electromagnet and computer industries creating commercially available products.

Debra Ruh is the CEO has more than 20 years of experience creating technology and distance learning solutions for financial companies and industry leaders. She is the proud mother of a daughter with Downs Syndrome named Sara and her daughter has been her inspiration to become an advocate for the disabled.

Over 75% of the TecAccess staff are persons with severe disabilities. We believe in the abilities of our employees and feel the bottom line is that millions of people with disabilities want and need access to today's technology. We are making headway and continue to hire not only disabled associates but also severely disabled associates, like Sean.

Hello my name is Sean Stapleford, the oldest of seven children. As the result of a diving accident in the James River, he broke his neck in 1972, leaving him paralyzed from his shoulders down. He spent almost a year at Portsmouth Navy Hospital (the nearest appropriate military medical facility), where he stabilized medically, and worked to complete his high school education.

In 1973, he was transferred to Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center, in Fishersville, VA, where he spent the next year and a half being rehabilitated learning to operate a motorized wheelchair, and continuing his education. He was trained, among other things, in Computer Science, binary and hexadecimal number systems, other fundamentals of computers, which were current at that time, and learned programming in the COBOL computer language. He learned to operate electric typewriters and the computer terminals using a tool called a “Mouthstick”, a lightweight wooden dowel or metal tube, with a plastic mouthpiece on one end, held in his teeth, and a rubber tip at the other. He uses it to press keys, turn pages, operate switches, remote controls, and speakerphones, along with many of the other things that most people do with their hands. He has become quite proficient in using it, after more than 25 years of experience.

Unfortunately, when Sean moved to Richmond to live with his family in 1975, after completing his rehabilitation, he and his family realized that Richmond had no system of transporting people in wheelchairs, at that time. The family could not afford a specially equipped wheelchair van, and lived at the far edge of the metropolitan area, in a house at the end of a long gravel driveway, which caused him to be confined to his house much of the time, rather than attending college, as he and his family had planned.

In 1991, realizing that his parents were getting older, and having more difficulty providing daily care for him, and also wishing to become more independent, he moved to “The Virginia Home”, an adult residential care facility, located beside Byrd Park, in the West End of Richmond, where he is living currently.

Since moving to “The Virginia Home”, he has used his knowledge and experience to help other residents and staff members of The Home to use their own computers. He has set up and maintained computers for others, including several donated computers in the “Computer Room” at The Home, for use by many residents, with software programs and a menu system, which is appropriate for residents with limited computer skills, or impaired mental abilities. He has used his Internet skills to do research for the Recreation Therapy and other therapy departments, residents, staff members and their children, and his own family. He tries to help others, whenever he can, to fix their computers when they develop software problems, to help them install and learn new software, to give them advice, and generally help them to get everything they can from their computers.

TecAccess job is ideal for him, as he can work from his home, his hours are flexible, and can be worked around his daily schedule. His employer is very understanding of his situation, and has worked with Sean to balance his needs and abilities, with the needs and requirements of his job. Also, his supervisors work with a fairly “hands off” style, giving assignments, and letting the employees work at their own pace, and with their own style and schedule, as long as the work is done well, and completed on time. This management style suits Sean’s personal work style well, and allows him flexibility in arranging his daily and weekly schedule.

Additionally, the company is providing him with training, which he appreciates, being a person who enjoys learning, and which enhances his abilities and value to the company. He recently completed a month long course, “Beginners Barrier-Free Web Design”, through an online training company, “EASI” (Equal Access to Software and Information).

He hopes, as a part of the TecAccess team, to be successful and to be a part of a successful and growing business, which provides a valuable and worthwhile service. He is working very hard everyday, to be an asset to the company, and to do his part to make it a real success. He realizes, and appreciates, that what is good for the company is good for him.

Thanks, Sean

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At TecAccess, we can provide comprehensive solutions to companies and government's Section 508 compliance needs. We take the compliance issue one step further - and not only help companies get Section 508 compliant, but we also assist companies in making products and website accessible and useable.

Section 508 requirements are here to stay and website accessibility will play a major role in the procurement process. The software industry went through a similar evolution when the world switched to Microsoft Windows. New standards and techniques had to be developed and designed to incorporate a Windows environment into new applications. The same will happen with section 508. Once developers become accustomed to developing with Section 508 compliance in mind, it will become an industry standard and business as usual.

TecAccess provides a complete suite of compliance and accessibility solutions that can be custom tailored to best meets your organization’s needs. Our family of services can be provided in a modularized or a la carte manner or as a comprehensive turnkey package.

With the Federal Government’s passing of the Section 508 legislation many vendors that do business with the government are trying to understand how this new law affects them and their products. Some companies are self-certifying their products to be 508 compliant, others have yet to even address the issue. We feel that there is a great need in the software industry to independently test and evaluate products to determine how closely they match the 508 requirements. TecAccess is determined to fill that need. We want to ensure that when a product is marketed as being Section 508 compliant and accessible that it truly is.

We have been strong advocates for the disabled for a number of years. And we are intensely interested in helping them to achieve as independent a lifestyle as is humanly possible. That is why we all have great expectations for 508, and want to see it become legislation that will truly be helpful to those that are relying on it.

With TecAccess we want to accomplish two goals in the course of doing business.

· Provide a consistent testing environment that evaluates a vendor’s product according to the 508 specifications. This evaluation will help the purchasers of these products know if the product is compliant.

· Employ the disabled. To help disabled individuals become productive and more independent, we employ them to do the testing. The logic behind this is simple. Who better to test the products then the ultimate users?

As our business grows we will be able to employ more disabled individuals. Hence, the law passed to assist the disabled is actually helping to employ them as well.

Thanks for your time and please let me know if I can provide additional information. Sincerely, Debra (druh@tecaccess.net)

Debra Ruh - CEO
TecAccess formerly Strategic Performance Solutions (SPS)
18122 Vontay Road
Rockville, VA 23146
(804) 749-8646 (office)
(804) 986-4500 (cell)
druh@tecaccess.net

www.tecaccess.net

 

 

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