Walking the Walk on Diversity & Inclusion

“Technology can give you more independence, but only a human touch or voice can free your spirit”. Rosemary Musachio

Rosemary Musachio is the Chief Accessibility Officer at Ruh Global Impact. Rosemary, who was born with Cerebral Palsy is a poet, writer, blogger, and technologist — she is an inspiration!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Rosemary and we talked about the upcoming Women in AI Ethics Event. We are honored that she is speaking at the event. The interview is edited for length and clarity.

Aishwarya: How did you hear about the Women in AI Ethics (WAIE) initiative?

Rosemary: My colleague, mentor, and friend, Debra Ruh recommended me as a panelist for the last WAIE event. The panel discussion focused on Building Inclusive, Ethical, and Accessible AI for Healthcare and was moderated by Debra. Besides me, the panel included Frances West — former Chief Accessibility Officer for IBM, and Dr. Rachele Hendricks-Sturrup, Health Policy Counsel & Lead at the Future of Privacy Forum. I was very honored to be with all three women. They have brilliant minds and big hearts!

Aishwarya: What makes WAIE different or unique compared to other initiatives like Women in AI, Women in Tech, others?

Rosemary: Unlike other women initiatives, WAIE focuses more on the human element. The organization’s mission isn’t only about how women manage technology, it is also about how we as humans react to it and each other using technology. WAIE also explores how we can control technology before it controls us.

Aishwarya: Tell us more about your session and why should folks attend it?

Rosemary: My session will highlight how AI and some non-AI methods can help break down communication barriers for medical professionals as well as patients. Anyone who works in healthcare should attend this conference.

Aishwarya: What are some of the blockers that organizations face in adopting and implementing a Disability Inclusion Leadership Roadmap?

Rosemary: Many corporate executives still adhere to the stereotypes that persons with disabilities cannot be productive members of society, let alone be leaders of society. About 20% of persons with disabilities have jobs, compared to 68% of persons without disabilities.

How can we be promoted as executives when hardly anyone gives us opportunities?

Microsoft is the only major company that has an executive with a disability, specifically a chief executive officer with a hearing impairment. Other companies that have done a tremendous job of employing persons with disabilities include Embassy Suites, IBM, AT&T, and Amazon. They know that having employees with diverse abilities means creating a loyal productive workforce. Hiring and promoting us also attracts more business because the public loves when companies do good things. Enabling someone with a disability is always a great thing!

Come hear Rosemary at RETHINK AI: ETHICAL AI TECH & TOOLS SUMMIT on May 25th where she will share more of her insights along with other multi-disciplinary experts from Mozilla Foundation, Omidyar Network, ACLU, Access Now, DuckDuckGo, Dataiku, and many others building ethical technologies and tools for more diverse, inclusive, and ethical tech future.