Signal Centers welcomes you to our 4th annual Accessibility Awareness Summit. Our summit will kick-start on May 19th, 2022, national Global Accessibility Awareness Day, at Chattanooga State Community College. We will visit issues facing individuals with disabilities and how these issues can be addressed with technology.
We hope to see you at our conference! To purchase tickets, click below.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND INCLUSION
9:00 AM - Welcome: Quincy Jenkins and Donna McConnico
9:10 AM - 9:50 AM - Through Diversity to Richer Experiences for All
10:00 AM - 10:50 AM - An Accessible Education: from Early Childhood to Post-Secondary
with Edna Varner
10:50 AM - 11:45 AM - Inclusion and Technology: Accessibility in Digital Environments with Rob Carr
Lunch 11:45 AM - 12:15 PM
12:15 PM - 1:00 PM - Aging and Disabilities: Planning for the Future with Amy Boulware
1:05 PM - 2:00 PM - Building an Accessible and Inclusive Workplace with Miles Huff
2:15 PM - 2:45 PM - Neurodiversity in Hiring, Activism and Advocacy with Deb Socia
2:50 PM - 3:30 PM - Designing Accessible Communities with Geoff Millener
3:30 PM - 4:10 PM - A Conversation on Intersectionality and DEI: Is Disability Being Left Out of the Conversation? with Stacy Lightfoot and Dr. Denise Reid
4:30 - Wrap-up
Click here to download the SCAAS program.
Speakers, Moderators, and Guest
Come listen to experts in their fields discuss digital accessibility,
inclusion of individuals with different abilities, accessibility innovations and ideas.
Valerie Fletcher has been executive director since 1998 of the Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD). Fletcher writes, lectures, and works internationally. She generates opportunities for IHCD and has broad oversight of all consulting and design services. She created the IHCD User/Expert Lab which has over 500 people engaged in the evaluation of places, products, and services. Her current research focus is generating data to inform inclusive designing for the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPoC) and low-income communities. Fletcher’s career has been divided between design and public mental health and she is the former deputy commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health where she oversaw the largest participatory planning process ever undertaken in a state mental health system.
Miles Huff currently serves as the Advocacy ad Development Administrator for Cempa Community Care. In this role, Miles oversees marketing, communications, development, community outreach and government relations. He is a graduate of Lee University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and his master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. He is an alumnus of Leadership Chattanooga and serves on the board of directors for the Children’s Advocacy Center and Arts build. In addition, he is a member of the Diversity Task Force for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga and co-founded the Affirming Alum Collective–a group dedicated to advocating for the rights of LGBTQ+ students in the Chattanooga area who are attending faith-based universities.
Kaitlyn Edge, Digital Marketing Analyst at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is a highly dedicated and passionate leader, facilitator, and professional with 5+ years of experience working in project coordination, event management and community development. A proud Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Kaitlyn successfully served 3 years in Panama where she primarily worked with at-risk youth and people with disabilities. Fluent in both English and Spanish, Kaitlyn’s exceptional communication and relationship building skills truly set her apart.
At the age of 20, Kaitlyn was diagnosed with Cone-Rod Dystrophy, a degenerative retina disease that led to her being declared legally blind two years later. At the time of her diagnosis, she was told she needed to be “realistic” about her goals and that being a Peace Corps Volunteer was simply “out of the question”. This news did not discourage Kaitlyn but instead motivated her to work harder to achieve her goals. Nearly a decade later, she has completed two tours of Peace Corps service and is now dedicated to serving the nearly 3.5 million BCBST members nationwide.
Being a disabled member of the LGBTQ+ community, Kaitlyn truly understands the difference diversity and inclusion programs can have and is passionate about the creation of diverse, inclusive and fully accessible workplaces.
Ashley currently serves a Senior Contracts Manager in TVA’s Enterprise & Labor Contracts. In this role, she oversees TVA’s contract engineering partners as they work with TVA to redesign & enhance performance of the generation fleet and design & develop new generation. Ashley has served at TVA for ten years in governance/assurance roles and contracting. Ashley serves as champion of TVA’s ABLED Employee Resource Group and works with a small but mighty team of 15. ABLED strives to raise awareness of disabilities (specifically in the workplace) and encourage an inclusive workplace for everyone. She has been involved in TVA’s diversity & inclusion program since 2014. Ashley holds a Bachelor of Science, Accounting from the University of TN-Chattanooga and a Master of Business Administration from Bryan College. She has been married to her husband, Ricky for 25 years and is a proud mom of two daughters who are currently pursuing degrees in Criminal Justice/Psychology and Exercise Science.
Deb Socia is President and CEO of The Enterprise Center, a nonprofit that nurtures innovation inChattanooga with the goal of connecting people to resources and building an inclusive community, growing the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the Innovation District, and supporting research and implementation of smart city applications. Prior to her current role, Deb was the Executive Director ofNext Century Cities, a nonprofit that supports community leaders as they seek to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet. She has also served as Executive Director of the TechGoes Home program in Boston, a program to ensure digital equity
Geoff Millener serves as the Chief Operating Officer for The Enterprise Center in Chattanooga, TN. He works with a dynamic team and community partners leveraging the city’s unique gigabit infrastructure to develop, test, deploy and scale solutions for the 21st century with focus on digital inclusion, economic mobility and Smart City innovation.A graduate of Amherst College, he was selected as one of “50People Who Made the Internet a Better Place” by Mozilla in 2017 and to ChattanoogaTimes Free Pres’s 20 Under 40 list in 2020.Geoff volunteers locally as chair of Thrive’s Regional Broadband Alliance, and serves on Signal Centers’ Assistive Technology Community Board as well as serving on the board of theJA Henry Community YMCA and Parkridge Hospital
Dr.Mina Sartipi is the Founding Director of the Center for Urban Informatics and Progress at theUniversity of Tennessee at Chattanooga where she is also a Guerry Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department.Her research focuses on data-driven approaches to tackle real-world challenges in smart city applications focused on mobility, energy, and health. At the Center for UrbanInformatics and Progress, she coordinates cross-disciplinary research and strategic visions for urbanism and smart cities advancement with a focus on people and quality of life. She received her BS inElectrical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran and her MS and PhD degrees inElectrical and Computer Engineering from Georgia Tech.
Dr. Michelle Rigler works in higher education and her career has focused on creating equal access for students, faculty, staff, and visitors with disabilities. By remaining fluent in the language of theAmericans withDisabilities Act-Amendments Act through all of its changes, she has been able to create and manage an effective Disability Resource Center at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. In partnership with colleagues, she developed a successful comprehensive and holistic program to support students with Autism Spectrum Disorder as they transition to and move through their college careers with a hopeful outcome of appropriate career attainment.
Dr. Ladd is a native of Mobile, Alabama, and has worked in the Hamilton County School System since 2009. She holds an Ed. S. specialist degree in education. She currently serves as the Exceptional Education Supervisor for Related Services in Hamilton County supporting speech/language, audiology, deaf education, visual disabilities, assistive technology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and Tenn Care reimbursements. In the speech-language pathology field, she has practiced in a variety of settings such as hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and private practice.
Rob Carr, CPACC (Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies), is the Strategic Accessibility Coordinator at WebAIM. Rob has been in the digital accessibility space since 2010. He has spent loads of time training, consulting, and learning about digital accessibility topics large and small. Rob has worked with hundreds of individuals and dozens or organizations on everything from accessibility in a single PDF to integrating accessibility into organizations’ digital strategies. Rob presents at national conferences, organizes the occasional conference, and tries to be more active and less snarky on LinkedIn.
John Slatin AccessU 2020
Ethics, Economics And (In-)Action: Accessibility In Procurement And Use
Mainstream & Web Accessible Technologies
Amy Boulware is a care manager for Elder Law and Special Needs clients for the Chambliss Law firm.She has devoted her career to serving elders, people with disabilities, and their families through advocacy and geriatric and special needs care coordination. She is a Tennessee Licensed AdvancePractice Social Worker holding an intimate knowledge and high level of experience with benefits attainment, long-term care and healthcare planning, patient advocacy, housing, transportation, crisis management, and special needs trusts. Amy has taught at Southern Adventist University’s Social Work and Nursing graduate schools and regularly speaks to church and community groups and professional organizations. Additionally she has served on the Tennessee Governor’s Commission on Aging.
Dr. Edna Varner has devoted her life to seeing human potential as a teacher and a volunteer with non-profits whose mission is accessibility. Since her retirement, Dr. Varner has worked with the PublicEducation Foundation on initiatives that support public school teachers, leaders, and students. She is the former principal for Howard School and currently serves on more than ten non-profit boards including the Community Foundation and Siskin Children’sInstitute. She is also the recipient of local service awards including Chattanooga Rotary’s Youth Chair and most recently she received the 2021 Kiwanis Distinguished Service Award
Jordan Cowe is a neurodiverse software engineer who loves a challenge. From becoming the world’s youngest certified wine educator, to creating a system for teaching mindfulness using daily activities, and most recently to changing careers and completing a bachelors of computer science in 18 months, Jordan has used his unique perspective to find faster, more efficient ways, of completing difficult tasks. Along this path Jordan has also been passionate about sharing his perspective and learnings with others hoping that they can see the value of neurodiversity. Whether it’s an employer questioning their existing systems, a neurodiverse person learning to believe in their own value, or anyone just embracing their own unique ways of thinking, Jordan hopes we all learn to ask, why?
Kim is a talent development professional working with a variety of projects and programs relating to the community including workforce development and diversity on behalf of EPB. She collaborates on regional partnerships including Hamilton County Schools, Chattanooga State, Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute, and the American Association of Blacks in Energy. She also serves as the Educational Outreach chair for the American Association of Blacks in Energy’s East Tennessee Chapter. She holds a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion certificate from Cornell University’s online education program.
Stacy Lightfoot joined the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in July 2021 as the institution’s first Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Engagement. In this role, she serves as a catalyst to foster a more inclusive campus community and provides strategic leadership for both diversity and inclusion initiatives. Prior to UTC, Stacy was the Executive Vice President at the Public Education Foundation where she worked facilitating partnerships with regional and national constituencies to achieve parity in student education outcomes. She holds both a BA degree in Communications and a Masters degree in International Service.
Monica Stone began her career in education with the ever-present musing of how she could serve the disabled community. After working in the pediatric physical therapy and sign language interpreter fields, she found her calling in education. She received a Bachelor of Science in Special Education and Master of Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Over the
past 30 years, Monica has served as a public-school special education teacher, school system administrator, early childhood classroom teacher. Her current position is Network Inclusion Coordinator for Signal Centers/Tennessee Child Care Resource and Referral Center.
Jennifer Nichols is an advocate at her core who has never let challenges hinder her from achieving goals and living life to the fullest. Her passion for advocacy led her to pursue Social Work. In 2004, she earned a BSW from Middle Tennessee State University, and a MSW from Florida State University in 2008. For nearly the last the decade, Ms. Nichols has worked at a durable medical equipment supplier, serving in various capacities ranging from insurance verification to the position she currently holds, assisting patients who require enteral nutrition and supplies.
Ms. Nichols believes that the most effective way to advocate is to educate. She has spent most of her life doing just that. Over the last 18 years, she has spoken to a multitude of people ranging from school districts to policymakers, and social workers. Ms. Nichols has been on the board for Signal Centers Inc. in Chattanooga for a year.
Dr. Reid earned a Ph.D in Education (Disability Studies emphasis) from Chapman University and an MS in Special Education from California State University, Fullerton. She has 35 years of experience in ensuring equitable education for students with disabilities. She has spent over a decade working with high school students with disabilities as they transitioned from high school to post-secondary education, with the provision of mandated accommodations for college students with disabilities as her main responsibilities. Her past research has focused on tensions experienced by college students as they negotiate their disabled and non-disabled identities. She is currently an Associate Professor at the School of Education at Biola University.