Assistive Technology Expo 2009 Speaker Bios

C.B. Averitt

CB Averitt is the Webmaster at Florence-Darlington Technical College. He is a part of a team of four that is responsible for eleven websites. His responsibilities include web server maintenance, SQL server maintenance, programming, designing and layout. He also works with media such as closed captioning for Adobe Flash Media. His passion is building tableless designs using Cascading Style Sheets. CB also owns and manages Cats Productions Inc located in Florence, SC where he designs, builds and maintains several website for local businesses and organizations.

Susan Davis

Susan Davis is a Program Coordinator for USC CDR with twelve years of professional experience in the specialized field of supported employment for individuals with disabilities.  She is a recipient of the Association for Persons in Supported Employment (APSE) National and State Awards for Best Practices.

Gayle Disney

Gayle H. Disney, Ed.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Spadoni College of Education and Co-coordinator of the Special Education Program at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina. Prior to joining the faculty at Coastal Carolina University in 2004, Dr. Disney was employed for sixteen years as a secondary special education teacher, transition coordinator, and school administrator. Her research and professional interests include the use of teacher lore in teacher education, teacher identity, post secondary success of students with disabilities, and best practices in transition.

Catherine Graham

Catherine Leigh Graham has worked in the Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology field for over 15 years.  She is a Rehabilitation Engineer with the University of South Carolina - School of Medicine and is currently working in the Interagency Office of Disability and Health to improve the health and prevent secondary conditions for people with disabilities.  She also works with the Assistive Technology Program on the Assistive Technology Exchange Program.  She is the President of the SC Spinal Cord Injury Association, board member of the South Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund and a volunteer with the Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services service dog program.

Kristi Hartwell

Kristi Hartwell, who has her Masters Degree in Social Work, is the Project Director of the Supported Community Living Initiative at the University of South Carolina’s Center for Disability Resources.  She supports individuals with developmental disabilities and their circles of support in exploring creative housing opportunities to become active members of the community.  She also provides technical assistance and training on person-centered planning and supported living to improve the quality of life for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Prior to directing the Supported Community Living Initiative, Kristi spent three years as the Medicaid Case Manager for individuals with disabilities who receive the HASCI and MR/RD waivers in the Midlands Region.  In 2006, she became the Program Assistant for the Pervasive Developmental Disorder Waiver.  Her education and past experiences have prepared her to be a strong advocate for community inclusion for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Tom Jackman

Tom Jackman has been employed by the SC Department of Vocational Rehabilitation as the manager of the Rehabilitation Technology Department for the past ten years. He earned a BS in education from Cortland State College in New York prior to spending six years as a teacher. He continued his education at the University of South Carolina where he earned a MS degree in Exercise Science with a concentration in Biomechanics. He completed his education at the University of Toledo where he earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering. His specialty areas include job site assessment, home assessment and vehicle modification. He has presented many times at the ATP expo and can be found at the SCVR booth every year.

Clay Jeffcoat

Clay serves as the Access Technology Specialist in the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind's Outreach Vision Program. He provides consultation and direct instruction to students and teachers in public schools and agencies statewide. He also consults with the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind Braille Production Center located at Leath Correctional Facility in Greenwood, where he provides training and technical assistance with the sophisticated equipment used to produce Braille. He has taught Access Technology for Teachers of the Visually Impaired for the University of South Carolina Upstate. Clay is a graduate of USC with a BS in Computer Science and an MBA. He is a member of the Computer Science and Technology Committee of the National Federation of the Blind of SC, as well as a member of the Talking Book Services Advisory Council for the South Carolina State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. In his spare time, Mr. Jeffcoat enjoys antique radio restoration and amateur radio.

Tiffany Johnston

Tiffany Johnston has been the Executive Director of Walton Options for Independent Living for the last nine years. Walton Options, a federally designated Center for Independent Living, is a non-profit organization in Eastern Georgia and Western South Carolina that is focused on supporting individuals with disabilities in achieving their personal goals, as well as promoting equal opportunity and systems changes that will advance the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Chief Executive Officer, Tiffany is responsible for directing the services that implement the organization’s mission and goals including the Tools for Life Program and the growing Reuse and Recycling Project that is part of the STAR Network.  Ms. Johnston also serves on the Board of Directors for the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living, a national organization whose mission is to support and advocate for support centers in rural America. 

Ms. Johnston is a native of Florida and a graduate of the University of North Florida.  Her degree is in Education with a specialty in Exceptional Ed. Prior to moving to South Carolina, she was a program manager for a community based living program for young adults with deaf-blindness and significant cognitive delay, as well as a teacher in the Duval County School System.

Barbara Jolly

Barbara Jolly has a BS in Physical Therapy from MUSC and has been the Senior Physical Therapist at the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department since 1994. She performs physical therapy evaluations for Voc Rehab clients who use wheel chairs. Previously she worked at HealthSouth in Columbia, with clients who experienced CVAs, total hip replacements, total knee replacements, amputees, and some spinal cord injuries.

Susan Maloney

Susan Maloney currently holds the position of Assistive Technology Specialist with the South Carolina Department of Education. She has an M.S Ed. and a B.S. in Special Education, both from Northern Illinois University. She also has an M.A. in Multicultural Education from Columbia College Chicago. Upon completion of her B.S., she educated blind and visually impaired students in the Chicago Public Schools for 4 years and went on to serve as the Coordinator of the AT Resource Center for the Chicago Public Schools for 4 years. After relocating to South Carolina, she worked for the Beaufort County School District, teaching in a self-contained special education classroom and working as an itinerant teacher of the blind and visually impaired.

Liz Persaud

Liz Persaud worked as an intern with Tools for Life during the Spring of 2002. Later that year, she completed her undergraduate degree in Sociology from Georgia State University and joined the Tools for Life staff.

Ms. Persaud enjoys utilizing her time as a public speaker working to build bridges between individuals with and without disabilities and encouraging others to “focus on abilities”.  As an individual with a physical disability and an assistive technology user, Ms. Persaud has dedicated her life to increasing independence for individuals with disabilities by promoting self advocacy and equality amongst those of all abilities.

She is currently an active volunteer and public speaker with the Muscular Dystrophy Association, appearing on the MDA Atlanta Annual Labor Day Telethon. In addition, Ms. Persaud is the 1999 and 2005 Muscular Dystrophy Association Personal Achievement Award winner for the state of Georgia. Ms. Persaud lives in Alpharetta, Georgia with her family.

Carolyn Phillips

Carolyn Phillips is a nationally known consultant and has spoken at numerous conferences to groups on topics that include assistive technology, advocacy, self-determination and living with a learning disability. She serves as Director of Tools for Life and the Director of the National Pass It On Center. Ms. Phillips has published articles in journals, a chapter in a book and poetry focused on understanding and appreciating people with disabilities. She dedicates her time and energy to promoting independence for people with disabilities through advocacy, education, assistive technology and fundraising. Ms. Phillips received her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and her Master's Degree from the University of Kentucky.

Emma Savage-Davis

Dr. Emma Savage-Davis is Director of the Biddle Center for Teaching, Learning and Community Engagement and an Associate Professor of Middle Grades Education at Coastal Carolina University. She began her career as an educator in the Chicago Public School system, where she taught for more than 11 years. Subsequently, she taught at East Tennessee State University as well as at James Madison University and Longwood University, both in Virginia. Savage-Davis has worked in community outreach programs for more than 20 years and school-based community partnerships for 10 years, most notably the campus-wide mentoring program and school engagement efforts at Coastal Carolina University. She has presented and published on topics and received funding for programming related to education and disadvantaged youth, as well as programs that assist underrepresented students access to higher education. Savage-Davis has served on several national and state education associations and education program accreditation teams.

Mary Jo Schneider

Mary Jo Schneider is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist and Assistive Technology Regional Specialist with the South Carolina Department of Education. She has worked for 14 years in the public school system as a Speech-Language Pathologist and Assistive Technology Specialist. She received her MA in Communication Disorders from the University of South Carolina and has completed training in assistive technology at California State University at Northridge.

Stacy Springer

Stacy Springer holds a M.S. in Occupational Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.S. in Psychology and Special Education from Syracuse, NY. She is a licensed Assistive Technology Practitioner, a licensed Occupational Therapist and an Assistive Technology Regional Specialist with the South Carolina Department of Education. Previously she served as an Assistive Technology Specialist for Cabarrus County Schools, North Carolina and as the Assistive Technology Coordinator for Charleston County School District, SC. She has worked with children with disabilities in both the public and private setting, with a focus on low-incidence and multiple disabilities.

Sharon Steed

Sharon Steed has two graduate degrees in Speech Pathology from Winthrop University and the University of Arizona. She currently works at AnMED Health in Anderson, South Carolina based at Pediatric Therapy Works. She has specialized in the field of assistive technology/augmentative communication for over 20 years as a speech pathologist.

Sharon has been employed in a variety of treatment settings to include the school, assistive living, rehab, and bedside in the hospital. In addition, she has presented workshops, trainings and provided consultations to consumers requiring AAC devices and strategies their families and caregivers, academic staff, students and other healthcare providers.

Grace Strother

Grace is legally blind and uses the ZoomText screen reader/magnifier. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband and retired racing greyhound. She works as a Knowledge Specialist at Blackbaud, a software company that serves the nonprofit sector. Grace enjoys visiting nursing homes and schools with her greyhound as a therapy dog team and serves as the webmaster for a small nonprofit organization.

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Sponsored by the South Carolina Assistive Technology Program at the USC School of Medicine Center for Disability Resources, the SC Department of Education, the SC Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, the SC Association for Educational Technology, Mid-Carolina AHEC, Inc., and the SC Assistive Technology Advisory Committee, Division of State Information Technology (DSIT), SC Budget and Control Board.