Dr. Karen Blankenship
Dr. Karen Blankenship has been a teacher of students who are blind and visually impaired since 1976. Her professional journey includes being both an itinerant and resource room teacher, Iowa State Vision Consultant, Vanderbilt Professor in the Visual Disabilities Program, and finally an instructional coach at a special school for the blind. She is currently the director of Quality Programs for Students with Visual Impairments and consults in North America. Her expertise includes assessments, ECC instruction, literacy, and transition.
Dr. Cindy Bachofer
Cindy Bachofer, PhD, CLVT, is the low vision consultant at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Austin, TX. She completed her doctorate at Vanderbilt University in 2013. The title of her dissertation is Long-Term Use of Optical Devices by Young Adults with Low Vision. She is also a Certified Low Vision Therapist. Her teaching interests include use of optical devices, print reading strategies, and psychosocial issues for students with low vision. She previously served as a teacher of students with visual impairments and as a consultant with Project Providing Access to the Visual Environment (PAVE), from 2001-2008, at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. Ms. Bachofer has also served as a literacy project leader with VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) in Nashville and as an English instructor at both the secondary and post-secondary level in Kansas.
Kate Beals is a recently retired Pediatric Occupational Therapist with more than 20 years of experience working at sites including the Deafblind Program at Perkins School for the Blind, The South Carolina Interagency Deafblind Project, and The South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind. Kate is the only occupational therapist that Perkins International has ever sent to work in China, where she provided training for professors and students at East China Normal University, and for teachers at Shanghai School for the Blind. Kate presents regularly at International CHARGE Syndrome Conferences, where she works on the CHARGE 101 Team, focusing on sensory integration issues.
Kathryn D Botsford, Ph.D., TVI, NBPTS©, COMS
Kathryn Botsford, is an ACVREP certified O&M specialist and a National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certified teacher for children with visual impairments. She is the APH ConnectCenter’s Digital Content Strategist, and supports website content. In her free time, she is also an adjunct professor for San Francisco State University and Dominican College where she prepares future teachers for children with visual impairments.
James Scott Crawford
James Scott Crawford is a nationally renowned speaker and author. He is certified as an Orientation and Mobility Instructor (COMS), Certified Low Vision Therapist (CLVT), and as a Certified Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist (CATIS). His Master’s Degree is from the University of Arkansas - Little Rock. He is the author of Orientation and Mobility for Wheelchair Users with Vision Impairments, an electronic book from the American Printing House for the Blind. He wrote a chapter for the textbook O&M for Life, and co-authored a chapter with Dr. Sandra Rosen for the Foundations of Orientation and Mobility textbook. He has been working with people with vision impairments for over 30 years. As an employee of the Affiliated Blind of Louisiana Training Center, in addition to teaching O&M with the Lafayette Parish Schools, providing assessments and training for Louisiana Rehabilitation Services; he currently coordinates the Louisiana portion of the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (ICANCONNECT). AER awarded Mr. Crawford the “Orientation and Mobility Citation of Excellence for Direct Services”.
Dr. Jon Forche
Dr. Jon Forché is a graduate of Miami University where he graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Biological Sciences. He received his Doctorate in Optometry from the Ohio State University College of Optometry. He completed a residency in Low Vision Rehabilitation/Ocular Disease at the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dr, Forche’ is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and a Diplomate of the American Board of Optometry. He is a vision rehabilitation consultant with the following organizations: Vision Rehabilitation Services (Smyrna, Ga), The Center for the Visually Impaired (Atlanta, GA), VISTAS (Athens, Georgia), The Smokey Powell Low Vision Clinic (Macon, Ga) and Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency.
Gina Gelinas, MEd, CCC-SLP, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) and is licensed by Georgia in Speech-Language Pathology. Ms. Gelinas is the Educational Outreach Manager at the Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation (CIDI) and is responsible for assisting students, teachers, administrators, and others within the K-12 setting in finding effective assistive technology (AT) solutions to improve student achievement, productivity, and independence. Ms. Gelinas has over 30 years’ experience working in K-12 education as a practitioner and in leadership. She has vast experience providing diagnostic and therapeutic services for children and adolescents with a wide variety of physical, intellectual, emotional, and developmental disabilities as well as receptive and expressive language disorders and other speech and language disorders. Ms. Gelinas specializes in Augmentative/Alternative Communication (AAC) and working with individuals who exhibit complex communication needs. She also collaborates with and trains teams regarding language development and implementation of AAC in home and school environments. She has experience presenting locally and regionally to SLPs, teachers, related service providers and other assistive technology professionals. Prior to joining the Tools for Life team at CIDI, Ms. Gelinas served as the Program Manager for the Georgia Project for Assistive Technology (GPAT), a statewide initiative of the Georgia Department of Education, which supported local school districts in their efforts to provide assistive technology devices and services to students with disabilities. Ms. Gelinas has worked on numerous assistive technology guides, resources and toolkits that have been recognized nationally.
Marc Gillard is the Director of Rehabilitation Services at Guide Dogs for the Blind. Marc began his career with the Royal Guide Dogs Associations of Australia in 1992. He received a Graduate Diploma in Orientation and Mobility from La Trobe University in 1993 and became a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor in 1995. Marc is a Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist here in the USA. Marc has worked in various roles throughout his career including Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, Field Service Manager for the San Francisco Bay Area and Guide Dog Services Manager. In his current position as Director of Rehabilitation Services at Guide Dogs for the Blind he is responsible for managing the GDB O&M Immersion Program which provides a six-day O&M program to assist clients to obtain O&M skills essential for guide dog travel. Marc was an Assessor for the International Guide Dog Federation and has given presentations throughout the world. In 2015 Marc received the Sue Sullivan Award which is given in appreciation of a Guide Dogs for the Blind staff member who has made extraordinary contributions to the GDB community.
Dr. Tina Herzberg
Dr. Tina Herzberg is a Professor and Coordinator of the Visual Impairment Program at the University of South Carolina Upstate. She is a certified teacher of student with visual impairments and an ACVREP certified O&M specialist. She also currently serves as the principal investigator of the federally funded braille training grant, Project INSPIRE: Increasing the STEM Potential of Individuals Who Read Braille. Previously, she served as a general education math and English teacher, an itinerant teacher of students with visual impairment, an O&M specialist, and specialist/team leader for a regional service center in Texas. Her research interests include braille literacy, assessment of students with visual impairments, tactile graphics, and efficacy of continuing professional development.
Danny is the Assistive Technology Case Manager for Shepherd’s Assistive Technology Center. He coordinates supports and services for people that come in for the seating, driving and assistive technology clinics. Danny is also an active advocate in the disability community serving as the board chair for disability link, the secretary for the Atlanta National Federation of the Blind and sitting as a board member for the Statewide Independent Living Council, CAC for the Center for Leadership in Disability and the National Disability Finance Coalition.
Ben Jacobs is a thought leader and national level speaker whose expertise revolves around the use of technologies to help individuals with disabilities to regain or maintain their personal independence. Ben is a retired United States Air Force Staff Sergeant. He served as a Tech Controller, overseeing the design, installation, and maintenance of various information technologies. His experience, in combining these technologies to achieve a mission they would not be able to accomplish on their own, made moving into the civilian sector and finding technology solutions for people with disabilities a seamless transition. Ben’s primary areas of focus include smart home technologies and accessible gaming.
Dr. Justin Kaiser
Dr. Kaiser is a Clinical Associate Professor and teaches in the programs to prepare orientation and mobility (O&M) specialists, and teachers of students with visual impairments. Dr. Kaiser is certified as a teacher of students with visual impairments and as a Certified O&M Specialist. Dr. Kaiser is currently a Board Member of the Orientation and Mobility Specialists Association. Dr. Kaiser has been involved in many research projects and conference presentations.
Olaya Landa-Vialard, Ph.D.
Olaya Landa-Vialard, Ph.D. is a National Leadership Consortium in Sensory Disabilities Fellow and Graduate of Texas Tech University. She is President-Elect for AERBVI. She has been a Bilingual Educational Diagnostician for Students with Visual Impairment/Blindness/Deafblindness/Multiple Disabilities, TVI, University Professor, Bilingual Family Engagement Coordinator for the Illinois State Deafblind Project, Project Reach, currently serves as an Adjunct Instructor for multiple university VI programs, and is currently the Director of APH ConnectCenter Programs.
Alan Lovell is the Information and Referral Services Coordinator for the American Printing House(APH) ConnectCenter. During his time at APH he has worked in marketing, sales, and customer service. Alan’s background in the field of blindness and his own experiences as a person who is blind help him in his current role where he connects people with disabilities with needed resources.
Cantrice Moffitt, CRC, CPRP, is the Rehabilitation Training and Outreach Specialist at the National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision. She is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner. Cantrice earned her M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling from Southern University, a graduate certificate in Forensic Vocational Rehabilitation from the University of Florida, and a Vision Specialist Graduate Certificate from Mississippi State University. She worked as a vocational rehabilitation counselor for nine years and enjoys using her knowledge and experience to provide training, outreach, and technical assistance.
Patty Obrzut is an Occupational Therapist and Assistant Director of Penrickton Center for Blind Children in Michigan. Penrickton utilizes an approach developed by psychologist and educator Dr. Lilli Nielsen of Denmark known as “Active Learning”. The foundation of this approach is that all human beings learn through doing, especially in the earliest stages of learning. Obrzut trained extensively with Dr. Nielsen and was authorized to provide training as an expert on Active Learning.
Nancy Parkin-Bashizi received her Master’s Degree in Orientation and Mobility and Rehabilitation Teaching for the Blind from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1995. This year she celebrates her 22th anniversary of employment at Vision Rehabilitation Services of Georgia (formally known as Blind and Low Vision Services of North Georgia). For the majority of her time with VRS she has worked as an itinerant teacher, providing O&M, VRT and Access Technology Training services to clients of all ages. She has taught O&M and RT to school children, provides support to university students, works with people who have lost their vision as adults and helps her older clients maintain their independence.
Pris Rogers consults with the American Printing House for the Blind on the VisionAware website for people new to vision loss, is a special advisor to the American Foundation for the Blind on aging and vision loss. and is a steering committee member of the National Aging and Vision Loss Coalition. She has her master's in gerontology and Ph.D. in aging and vision loss.
Chris Russell is the Project Coordinator for the New York Deaf-Blind Collaborative, and has experience as a classroom teacher and Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) working with children who have visual impairments and additional disabilities including deaf-blindness. Chris specializes in severe and multiple disabilities including deaf-blindness, cortical visual impairment, curriculum adaptations for children with visual impairments and additional disabilities, and instructional strategies supporting communication development for children with pre-symbolic communication. He has the Perkins-Roman CVI Range Endorsement, and conducts training in CVI Characteristics, Phases, Assessment and Intervention across NY state and nationally for professionals and families. He also serves as co-instructor for Perkins E-Learning's online course, Cortical Visual Impairment, and is adjunct faculty at Hunter College, CUNY, in the graduate programs for Blindness/Visual Impairment, and Childhood Special Education: Severe/Multiple Disabilities.
Christine has 35 years of experience as an educator in the fields of Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Special Education. Christine served for 6 years as an Education Specialist with the Georgia Sensory Assistance Project (GSAP), which is a birth-to-age-22 federal program that serves students with combined hearing and vision loss, and is the new INSITE/VIISA Coordinator for Georgia PINES. She holds a Specialist’s degree in Educational Leadership; a Master’s degree in Interrelated Special Education, a Bachelor’s degree in Deaf Education, and the Perkins-Roman CVI Endorsement.