Assistive Technology Expo 2015 Speaker Bios

Joe Anthony

Joe Anthony photo

Joe Anthony has been in Rehab Engineering since early 2011, and with SC Vocational Rehabilitation since August, 2014.  He has a bit of an eclectic career.  Beginning with a degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Akron (really, a kangaroo as a mascot… in Ohio), he served in the USAF and USAF Reserves as a Commissioned Officer for over 8 years.   He was a Developmental Engineer and Project Manager at the USAF Research Lab in Albuquerque, NM and Hill Air Force Base in Utah, and he’s worked as an Environmental Engineer for the State of NC.   

CB Averitt

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CB Averitt is a Senior Consultant with Deque Systems.  The company is a digital accessibility company and produces accessibility software in addition to offering accessibility consulting services.  CB has been in web development for over 14 years.  Having owned and operated Averitt Web Services, he has experience with front-end and back-end development as well as design and user experience. 

In 2005, CB was introduced to accessibility from working in the education sector.  CB was heavily involved with making SC colleges Section 508 compliant.  Since that time CB shares his expertise and passion for the open web with government, education and companies that rage from small business to Fortune 100.  CB has extensive knowledge in WCAG, AODA, and Section 508 regulations.

CB has completed hundreds of assessments and remediation in numerous technologies such as web, PDF and mobile.  He has presented trainings in CSS as it relates to CSS as well as trainings for web testers.  CB has been a volunteer with The South Carolina Assistive Technology Advisory Committee (SC ATAC) for over 8 years. 

Peter Balsamo

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Dr. Peter Balsamo is a retired academic administrator (adult continuing education) with more than 35 years experience working at higher education institutions in AL, VA, SC and PA. He has lived in Lexington for 4 1/2 years and is involved in various volunteer activities such as the Shepherd's Center of Lexington and the Lexington Sertoma Club. He serves as Vice President for Hearing Health on the Lexington Sertoma Club's board of directors and is spearheading efforts to educate the community about myriad hearing health issues such as noise-induced hearing loss and the use of hearing loop systems for hearing aid users. Dr. Balsamo is a 2012 graduate of Leadership Lexington County. He earned his BA and MA degrees from Montclair State (NJ) University and his Ph.D. from The University of Alabama.

Jenay Beer

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Dr. Jenay Beer is the director of the USC Assistive Robotics and Technology Lab, and Associate Director of Usability for SmartHOME. She is an Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Computer Sciences and Engineering and the College of Social Work.  Dr. Beer has an interdisciplinary background and training in Engineering Psychology (also called Human Factors). Her joint appointment allows her to bridge these two disciplines and promote a user-centered approach to technology applications. She specializes in human-robot interaction (HRI) and older adults, passionately pursuing the application of technology to improve the quality of lives for the older population. Her work has been featured in a TEDx talk, as well as a recent NPR, eTVradio broadcast. 

Clayton Copeland

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Dr. Clayton A. Copeland is on faculty with the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science. Dr. Copeland’s research focuses upon equity of access to information for underserved populations, including populations with differing abilities, and literacy. She teaches courses in the Foundations of Library and Information Science, Information Technology, Information Literacy, Information Resources, and Planning Library Facilities. Helping her students learn how to incorporate accessibility, Universal Design, and Universal Access into their work in libraries and classrooms of all types is both a personal and professional passion for Dr. Copeland.

Sam Creech

Sam Creech is employed full time as a Director of Information Technology at Walton Options located in Augusta, Georgia and a second office in North Augusta, SC. He manages two computer networks in these locations that keep the center up and running.  He is also passionate about teaching computer classes to people with various types of disabilities from the ages of five to 100 at the center.  On his own time, he does consulting on computer networks and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance.  He also performs preliminary evaluations on people who may need AAC devices. 

Carrie Cruce

Carrier Cruce portrait

Carrie Cruce has been with Greenville County Schools for 4 years working at the Washington Center as a speech-language pathologist. Washington Center is a self-contained special education school serving individuals with moderate to profound intellectual disabilities including students with autism, cerebral palsy, vision and hearing impairments and other syndromes. Previous experience includes work as an AAC specialist for the Technology Access Center of Middle Tennessee.  Her passion is finding innovative communication solutions that meet the unique needs of individual students for meaningful functional communication.   

Jonathan Cruce

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Jonathan Cruce is overeducated.  He has a BS in Liberal Arts from Erskine College, a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson University, a MS in Biomedical and Rehabilitation Engineering from Wright State University, and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.  He has been working in the Rehabilitation Engineering field for 15 years.  He currently works for the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department.  He works with many different clients, including high school students transitioning to college as well as high school or college students transitioning to work.  Jonathan has been a technical consultant for web site accessibility, toy adaptation, and home office ergonomics.  He has too many hobbies, including traditional artist blacksmithing, sailing, woodworking, and computer programming.  He’s an Eagle Scout, a tinkerer, and a Maker - often referred to as “MacGyver” or “Q” by colleagues.

Val Gioia

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All for Access founder Valeska (Val) Gioia has extensive experience in education, assistive technology, autism, literacy and working with a diverse population of students. She has over 12 years of experience conducting assistive technology assessments and conducting workshops statewide, nationally and internationally.

Val holds a B.A. in Elementary Education and Special Education, a ME.d in Educational Technology with a focus in Assistive Technology and an Ed.S. in Educational Administration. She has earned her ATACP in Assistive Technology through CSUN and an ATP in Assistive Technology through RESNA. She is also a Certified Autism Specialist, an Advanced Certified CPI Autism Trainer and a Certified Microsoft Educational Trainer.

Catherine Leigh Graham

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Catherine Leigh Graham has worked in the rehabilitation and AT field for 20 years.  She is the Executive Director of the SC Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund as well as a consultant rehabilitation engineer for the USC Arnold School of Public Health working to improve the health and prevent secondary conditions for people with disabilities.  She continues to work with the SCATP on AT reutilization.

Sandy Hanebrink

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Sandy Hanebrink, OTR/L is the Executive Director of Touch the Future, Inc. Ms. Hanebrink is an occupational therapist who has developed a practice niche in advocacy, assistive technology and networking individuals with disabilities and service providers to the necessary resources and funding to achieve individual life goals.  She has multiple presentations and publications at the local to international levels including topics on effectively educating and employing individuals with disabilities, reasonable accommodations, disability laws, disabled sports and assistive technology.  Ms. Hanebrink has received many awards and recognitions for her work.

Aisha Haynes

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Dr. Aisha Haynes is the Program Manager for Distributed Learning at the Center for Teaching Excellence, University of South Carolina - Columbia.  She manages the design, creation, delivery, and ongoing improvement of distributed-learning delivery methods on the USC-Columbia campus and for the USC regional system. Dr. Haynes is a certified Quality Matters Peer Reviewer and has earned Online Teaching certifications from the Online Learning Consortium (formally Sloan C). She has been designing online courses for over 8 years. She teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses online, including Information Literacy, Computer Applications in Business and Technological Applications for Diverse Populations.

Dow Hammond

Dow Hammond portrait

Dow Hammond is a USC-Columbia alumnus with a B.S. in Integrated Information Technology and has been an Assistive Technology Specialist now with the USC Office of Student Disability Services for four years.  He trains the students how to use AT devices and software that the department’s AT Lab provide and loan out to students.  Dow also works with and  presents to other faculty, staff, and students to help them understand the importance of accessibility and paths to take to make their documents and other material accessible for everyone.  Last, he manages his Office’s website and has worked with other webmasters of other departments to help them see ways to avoid Web inaccessible.

Janet Jendron

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Janet Jendron has been with SCATP for twenty years, where she manages the AT reuse program, administers the web page and three listservs. She is also Chair of the Web Accessibility Committee for the SC Assistive Technology Advisory Committee (ATAC), for which she administers the SC Web Testers Program, training and supervising assistive technology users in evaluating web sites for accessibility and disability, and reporting to state agencies. She has written articles and directed and wrote the CD ROM “SC Curriculum Access through Assistive Technology.” She presents on equipment reuse, AT, systems change, web and IT accessibility on the national, regional and state level. She has thirty-five years of administrative experience with local, national and international non-profits.

Ed Keelen

Ed Keelen photo

Ed Keelen retired from Westinghouse after a 40 year career, and started at Enabletech as a volunteer Project Coordinator.  In November, 2012, he was elected President and Chairman of the Board. Enabletech is a  501(c) (3) non profit corporation which provides specialized equipment to people with disabilities, with 10-12 volunteer engineers, providing services to between 18 and 20 clients per year, at no cost to them. 

Mike Leonard

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Mike is a System Engineer at EMC Corporation designing and implementing cloud storage for internet service providers and large corporations. He recently completed his M.Ed. degree in Educational Technology at the University of South Carolina specializing in assistive technologies. He runs a non-profit organization that provides small libraries of Spanish children's books to isolated communities in Central America.

Melanie Perkins

Melanie Perkins portrait

Melanie Perkins is an Outpatient Speech Pathologist at Palmetto Health Physical and Specialty Therapy, with over 15 years’ experience with adults who have communication and/or swallowing disorders.  Melanie holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Hearing and Speech Association (ASHA).  She works with a wide range of patients including those with disorders of voice (LSVT LOUD therapy for Parkinson’s Disease) and swallowing. She treats patients with aphasia and brain Injury.  She graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Masters in Speech-Language Pathology. Her current duties include assessment and treatment of communication disorders. Her augmentative communication experience ranges from low- to high-tech based on patient needs.

Carolyn Phillips

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Carolyn P. Phillips is nationally recognized in the field of assistive technology and disabilities. Carolyn serves as Director and Principal Investigator of Tools for Life, Georgia’s Assistive Technology (AT) Act Program at Georgia Tech | AMAC. In this capacity, she oversees a wide range of AT projects and programs, including the National Pass It On Center. Ms. Phillips teaches a graduate class at the University of Georgia in the College of Education. She is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences, guest lecturer at other universities and expert witness in AT-related cases. She has been featured on National Public Radio’s Infinite Mind, on PBS’s Innovators Series, on CNN, ABC and in articles distributed by Associated Press. She has published articles in numerous journals, chapters in books in AT and poetry focused on living with disabilities. Carolyn has dedicated her time and energy to promoting independence of all people, including those with disabilities through advocacy, education, assistive technology and fundraising. Among other awards and recognitions, she has received the National Rehabilitation Association’s Belle Greve Award for “outstanding contributions and major positive impacts” in the disability community. The Department of Labor in Georgia also gave her the Director’s Award for “extraordinary and diligent service on behalf of people with disabilities.” She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia, and her Master's Degree from the University of Kentucky. Carolyn lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Jason Ray

Jason Ray portrait

Vice President of Business Development at SimplyHome; Certified Aging in Place Specialist.  Since 2004, SimplyHome has designed, engineered and used assistive technology to increase independence and lower costs for seniors and people with disabilities. SimplyHome was the first company to receive national accreditation (CARF) using technology in support of independent living and aging in place. Since beginning with SimplyHome in 2008, Jason has been a national speaker/presenter on assistive technology use to associations, state and national agencies, and provider groups.  Jason was named in 2012 as a recipient of the Stephen E Sallee Excellence in Technology Award, and accepted the 2012 Edison Award for Best New Product for SimplyHome.  Jason’s work with SimplyHome has been featured on multiple episodes of ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition along with many other national publications.

John Rempel

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John brings more than 16 years of training experience to AMAC, with certifications and extensive experience as an AT Specialist, Vision Rehabilitation Therapist, and Orientation & Mobility Specialist for individuals with vision loss. He has a visual impairment himself, which has helped him to better understand and appreciate what students and employees with visual impairments experience. As a Quality Control and Training Specialist with AMAC, John assesses individuals' needs, develops training materials for our members, and provides quality control for AMAC training materials and online assistive technology offerings. He also presents and coordinates training courses to AMAC members and professionals in related fields.

Jennifer Tate

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Jennifer Tate began her speech-language pathology career in the school setting and is currently an outpatient SLP at MUSC in Charleston.  She earned her Master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from MUSC in 2010, and a B.S. in Computer Science and Minor in Business Administration from Clemson University in 2002. Ms. Tate is a previous presenter from the SC AT Expo in 2013 and presenter at various in-services at MUSC, and gave a poster presentation at the ASHA Convention in 2009.

Kimberly Tissot

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Kimberly Tissot is the Executive Director of Able SC where she guides the staff in applying the philosophy of Independent living to real situations. Kimberly holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development from Wheelock College in Boston, MA and a Master of Social Work from the University of South Carolina. During Kimberly’s time in Boston, she completed a leadership program at Harvard University where nonprofit management became an interest. Kimberly has developed several innovative independent living programs to reach all populations as well as developed an international program to promote disability rights. She is also appointed to the SC Statewide Independent Living Council and appointed by the SC State Superintendent of Education to the SC Advisory Council on the Education of Students with Disabilities where she serves as Co-Chair. Kimberly also serves on the SC Fair Housing board of directors in addition to several advisory councils related to services for South Carolinians with disabilities. Kimberly has over 15 years of professional experience working in the disability rights field. Her special interests include: parenting with a disability, assistive technology, leadership, and disability rights and awareness.

Madalina Tudora

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Madalina Tudora is an Assistive Technology Specialist for the SC Department of Education. She supports school districts in building capacity for assistive technology by providing guidance, resources and training for local assistive technology teams in SC. She also conducts workshops for teachers, therapists, administrators, and parents on various assistive technology topics. Her undergraduate degree is in Special Education, and her graduate degree is in Psychology. She is nationally certified as an Assistive Technology Professional through RESNA.

Robin Wheeler

Robin Wheeler is the first Executive Director of the South Carolina Access to Justice (SCATJ) Commission. She began her work at the SCATJ on October 1, 2007.

Prior to her work with the SCATJ Commission, Robin worked at Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities, Inc. (P&A), where she was team leader and staff attorney for the Outreach, Information and Referral (OIR) and Conditions in Facilities (CF) Teams. In 2005, Robin received the Anthony J. Raymond Award at P&A. During her P&A days, she worked with many people with disabilities, including work to improve effective communication. When she began at the SCATJ on October 1, 2007, she was already sensitized to effective communication and accessibility to the court system for people with disabilities, including people with disabilities who speak other languages, particularly ASL and Spanish. She has been a member on the South Carolina Assistive Technology Advisory Committee since July 2012. During her time on the Committee, she has worked with web testers on various projects to ensure that legal services are accessible, and presented a webinar on web accessibility in addition to other tasks.

Robin was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in November 1999, the United States District Court, District of South Carolina in 2002, and the Supreme Court of the United States in 2006. She is a Board Member for Mental Health America of South Carolina, a member of the South Carolina Women Lawyers Association, the American Bar Association and the Richland County Bar Association.

Roger Williams

Roger Williams portrait

Mr. Williams is the Director for Deaf Services with the South Carolina Department of Mental Health. He received his B.S.W. from the Rochester Institute of Technology, his M.S.W., specializing in community mental health, from the University of Illinois and is currently ABD at the University of South Carolina, College of Social Work. Mr. Williams is a S.C. Licensed Master Social Worker and holds an RID Certificate of Transliteration and an SCAD/NAD IAP Level 5 and has been recognized at the state and national level for his leadership in mental health services within the Deaf community.

Tuck Williams

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Tuck Williams is Program Coordinator for Home Works.  He provides logistical support for Session Coordinators and volunteers for all areas served by Home Works and assures that required documentation and permits are obtained.  With over twenty five years’ experience in construction markets, Tuck provides invaluable assistance to Home Works of America staff and volunteers.  Carole and Tuck live in Greenville, SC, and have two daughters away at college.

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