2021 Assistive Technology Summer Institute

Conference Schedule & Session Descriptions

Date(s) of Conference: June 14, 15, 17 & 18, 2021

Registration cost – FREE

Registration is closed!

Registration coming soon!

Day 1 – June 14, 2021 – Transition & Student Empowerment

9:30 am – 10:45am EDTInclusive Higher Education in KentuckyJohnny Collett – Deputy Director, University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI)RESNA, CRC – 1.25 hrs
11:00 am -12:15pm EDTStudent EmpowermentDavid Beach, PhD, MRC – Director, Disability Resource Center at the University of KentuckyRESNA, CRC – 1.25 hrs

Immediately following the Student Empowerment session, Jim Fortman of Vision Aid Systems, Inc will be presenting a brief demo of their latest Assistive Technology.

Day 2 – June 15, 2021 – Farming Panel Discussion & Accessible Documents

9:30 am – 10:45am EDTFarming with a Disability – Panel DiscussionModerator TBDRESNA, CRC – 1.25 hrs
11:00 am -12:15pm EDTUsing Microsoft Word to Create More Accessible DocumentsRob Carr, CPACC, Oklahoma ABLE Tech RESNA, CRC – 1.25 hrs

Day 3 – June 17, 2021 – Augmentative and Alternative Communication Devices

9:30 am – 10:45am EDTAAC: Don’t Let Them Leave Without It!Jacqui Kearns, Ed.D, Director UK-HDI TAALC ProjectRESNA, CRC – 1.25 hrs
11:00 am -12:15pm EDTThe Art of the AAC AssessmentKarissa Riter, M.S., CCC-SLP, ATP, Wendell Fosters CampusRESNA, CRC – 1.25 hrs

Day 4 – June 18, 2021 – DIY Assistive Technology during COVID-19

9:30 am – 10:45am EDTDIY Assistive Technology: Home ErgonomicsOVR Rehab Tech BranchRESNA, CRC – 1.25 hrs
11:00 am -12:15pm EDTManual Wheelchair Refurbishing and RepairPatrick Kitzman, PT, PhD & Ryan Creech, OVR Rehab Tech BranchRESNA, CRC – 1.25 hrs


Inclusive Higher Education in Kentucky

Presenter: Johnny Collett – Deputy Director, University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI)

Description: Coming Soon!

Presenter Bio: Johnny Collett is deputy director at the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute (HDI). Before joining HDI, Collett served as Assistant U.S. Education Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, Collett served as program director for special education outcomes at the Council of Chief State School Officers in Washington, D.C. Collett has also previously served as a division director and state special education director at the Kentucky Department of Education, and as a high school special education teacher.

From his role as a classroom teacher, to state special education director, to the United States’ highest-ranking official for special education and rehabilitative services, Collett has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to raising expectations and improving outcomes for people with disabilities. Added to that is his career-long commitment to meaningful and effective collaboration with diverse stakeholders – whether students, parents, educators, business leaders, disability advocates, Governors, state legislators, or members of Congress.

Collett’s extensive portfolio of leadership experience, including implementation of state and Federal laws and policies and numerous systems change efforts, provide him with a unique perspective on matters related to improving the educational and employment outcomes of people with disabilities.

Student Empowerment

Presenter: David Beach, PhD

Description: Coming Soon!

Bio: Dr. Beach is Adjunct faculty in the Graduate Program in Rehabilitation Counseling, where he teaches courses in Vocational Assessment, Rural Rehabilitation, and fieldwork. Dr. Beach’s research interests include rehabilitation counselor professional development, poverty-related issues of persons with disabilities, counselor mentoring, and transition of students with disabilities to post-secondary institutions.

Panel Discussion: Farming with a Disability

Presenter: Damita Papineau, Mike Brunsman, Jerry Wheatley

Description: A discussion with a panel of individuals with disabilities who use Assistive Technology to run and maintain their farms in Kentucky.

Bios: Damita Papineau – Prior to my accident I was a machinist at a factory working 40+ hours a week and also working part-time on our family farm. After my accident on March 19, 2017, I became a T12 paraplegic. With the help of vocational and AgrAbility I am now working on the farm full time. I work with the cattle, take care of the chickens, and I also have raised bed gardens. I have a tractor equipped with a lift and hand controls, I am able to work in the hay, cutting raking, and hauling in. I also bush hog and disc. I have a power wheelchair that helps me access the outside easier. I take care of the chickens, mow the yard, take care of the garden and work with the cows. I also have a Honda side by side equipped with hand controls.

Jerry Wheatley is the former Information Specialist for the KATS Network. While working for the KATS Network, Jerry was involved in all aspects of training, promoting, and advocating for assistive technology. Now retired, Jerry lives on an 11-acre farm in Bardstown, KY with his wife Lee in a house he built.

Mike Brunsman – Mike Brunsman has been an avid gardener for about 70 years. He has recently transitioned from planting in the field to raised bed gardening. He will talk about the changes he made to accommodate his arthritis.

Using Microsoft Word to Create More Accessible Documents

Presenter: Rob Carr

Bio: Rob Carr, CPACC, leads Oklahoma ABLE Tech’s technology accessibility program. ABLE Tech is Oklahoma’s Assistive Technology Act Program, housed at Oklahoma State University. Rob helps organizations to create and acquire more accessible technology solutions. He provides training and technical assistance to state agencies, higher education institutions, and other audiences across Oklahoma. Rob’s expertise ranges from the nuts and bolts of creating accessible web content to building a broad accessibility program. He also supports peer Assistive Technology Act Programs around the United States. Rob speaks about technology accessibility at local and national conferences and events. He organizes Oklahoma’s statewide technology accessibility conference, TechAccess Oklahoma.

Description: Microsoft Word has several features that help document creators and editors to create more accessible documents. And, more accessible Word documents create more accessible PDF files as well. During this session, you will learn tools and techniques in Microsoft Word to make sure that your documents are more accessible. At a minimum, we will discuss and demonstrate how Word supports creating accessible document titles, properly structured headings, properly structured lists, text equivalents for visual elements, more accessible data tables, using color more carefully, and providing descriptive text for links. Should we have time we will pass along more tips and tricks. You will leave the session with more confidence that your Word documents are more accessible to people with disabilities.

Don’t let them leave without it!

Presenter: Jacqui Kearns, Ed.D

Description:  Don’t let them leave without it!  Communication is essential for participation in all of life from social engagement & friendships, literacy & learning, to decision-making & safety. Yet, many students with complex needs leave preschool, elementary school, middle school, and even high school without this basic necessity.  While communication is multi-modal, AAC is an essential component for developing and maintaining relationships.

BioJacqui Kearns, Ed.D  directs the Kentucky Department of Education funded TAALC Project as well as other communication-related projects at the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute. She collaborates extensively with the faculty in the University of Kentucky Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

The Art of the AAC Assessment

Presenter:  Karissa Riter, M.S., CCC-SLP, ATP, Wendell Fosters Campus

Description: Conducting an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) assessment to help the AAC team determine the best communication method(s) for an individual requires knowledge of various areas including language skills, cognition, positioning, sensory, vision, hearing, etc. This course will describe how the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Participation Model (2004) is used in conjunction with a capability assessment to help make decisions about appropriate AAC.

Bio: Karissa Riter, M.S., CCC-SLP, ATP, is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Assistive Technology Professional. She is a graduate of Western Kentucky University. For the past 20 years, she has worked at Wendell Foster’s Campus for Developmental Disabilities. Her areas of interest include augmentative & alternative communication (AAC), as well as aural rehabilitation for children with hearing loss. She has given professional in-services on AAC at the local and regional levels.  She is an adjunct professor at Brescia University in Owensboro, KY. Mrs. Riter is a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the Kentucky Speech-Language-Hearing Association (KSHA), the Western Kentucky Speech-Language-Hearing Association (WKSLHA), as well as, the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA).

DIY Assistive Technology: Home Ergonomics

Presenter: OVR Rehab Tech Branch

Description: Many people found themselves working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. What started out as something many thought would last a couple of months turned into over a year of working from home. Many people didn’t have offices set up at home and made do with sitting monitors on telephone books or rolling up some towels to improve their back supports. Now, more and more people are considering how they can continue a hybrid (part work from home, part work from the office) work schedule with inexpensive ergonomics. In this session, you will learn about how to set up your workstation ergonomically. We will discuss some low-cost ergonomic equipment that you can purchase and some do it yourself solutions for improved comfort during your workday.

Bios: Carol Weber is the Assistive Technology Branch Manager for the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. She has worked in the vocational rehabilitation field for over 30 years, directly providing Assistive Technology to individuals with disabilities to allow them to obtain and maintain competitive employment.  For two years, Carol served as the ADA Coordinator for the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. She has a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Engineering from Louisiana Tech University and is RESNA certified as an Assistive Technology Practitioner.

Kevin Fitz-Gerald is a US Coast Guard veteran, where he served in Alaska as a non-commissioned officer and aviation electronics technician.  He has been an assistive technologist since 1993, and has been employed with the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation since 2006.  He has been a RESNA certified ATP since 2008.  He lives in Lexington and enjoys everything outdoors.

Maryfrances Gross, Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant, Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist, Senior Rehabilitation Technologists.  Has been with the agency for 10 years working in the eastern portion of the state.

Racheal Johnson is an Assistive Technologist for the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation and has worked with the agency for the past 5 years. When starting with Voc. Rehab was the Project Coordinator for both Project CARAT and KATS Network at CDPVTC, she now is a field tech that serves Eastern Kentucky. She also has a degree as a Physical Therapist Assistant and Bachelors in Public Administration; using her knowledge and past experience to assist consumers with disabilities in both work and school accommodations.

Clinton Matney has over 30 years experience as a Vehicle Modification Specialist with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Manual Wheelchair Refurbishing and Repair

Presenter(s): Patrick Kitzman, PT, PhD & Ryan Creech, OVR Rehab Tech Branch

Description: Coming Soon!

Bios: Dr. Kitzman is a professor and has been a full-time faculty member in the UK Department of Physical Therapy since 2000. Dr. Kitzman is also the founding Director of The Kentucky Appalachian Rural Rehabilitation Network, a network of people with spinal cord injury, stroke, and brain injury, healthcare providers, educators, researchers, state and local organizations, and other community stakeholders committed to the health and well-being of people with neurological conditions, especially those in rural and underserved communities. Dr. Kitzman received an MS degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Ohio State University in 1994. In 1999, Dr. Kitzman received a BS and MS in Physical Therapy from the University of Kentucky.

Ryan Creech is a Rehabilitation Technologist with the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute. He has spent the last 9 years working with the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation helping Kentuckians with disabilities return to the workforce or maintain their employment. Ryan has a background in computer software and web application development. Smart devices and connected homes have been an interest of his for some time now. He is the technical expert for My New Kentucky Smart Home, a Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation grant program that lends smart devices to people with paralyzing conditions in Kentucky so that they can try them out before purchasing. He currently lives in Rockcastle County on a small farm with his wife, some cats, some cows, and some chickens.