2021 National Coding Symposium – Speakers

Keynote Speakers

Rahma Ali
Title, Company


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Laura Allen
Head of Strategy, Accessibility & Disability Inclusion, Google

Laura Allen is the Head of Strategy for Accessibility and Disability Inclusion at Google. She works cross-functionally across teams to improve the accessibility and usability of Google products and processes, and to make Google a more accessible and inclusive place for people with disabilities. Due to her personal experience with low vision, she believes that technology has more power now than ever to transform lives, and progressing accessibility and disability inclusion is her true passion.

Prior to her role as Head of Strategy, Laura was the Senior Accessibility Program Manager for the Chrome and Chrome OS teams at Google. For 6.5 years, she collaborated with engineers, designers, product managers, and researchers to make the Chrome family of products accessible and usable across platforms, for people of all abilities.

She also leads various accessibility workshops and trainings for teachers of the visually impaired, advocacy organizations, and special education classrooms. In addition, Laura helps to lead Google’s presence at major accessibility conferences, as she believes that connecting with the community and gathering hands-on feedback is critical. Laura also represents Google in the Teach Access organization, where various technology companies, higher education institutions, and disability advocacy organizations come together to drive the inclusion of accessibility in core computer science, design, human centered interaction programs, and other key disciplines to close the accessibility skills gap. As of 2020, she serves as the Chair of the Teach Access Executive Committee. Since 2017, Laura has also served on the board of directors for the San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. As of June 2020, she serves on the board of the Alphapointe Foundation, an organization centered around empowering individuals who are visually impaired to achieve their goals and aspirations and gain meaningful employment.

Prior to her role in accessibility, Laura worked as an Account Manager in Google’s Large Customer Sales division where she advised business-to-business technology companies on their advertising and marketing strategies. For her undergraduate education, Laura studied International Business, Marketing, and Music at Georgetown University. She also completed an Executive Leadership graduate program at Stanford University in March 2021.


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Jennison Asuncion
Head of Accessibility Engineering Evangelism, LinkedIn

Jennison has been working in digital accessibility since 2006. He moved from Canada to the Silicon Valley in 2013 to work at LinkedIn. Today, Jennison is Head of Accessibility Engineering Evangelism. Part of his responsibilities include making sure LinkedIn’s Engineers who develop for the web, as well as iOS and Android apps, have the training and support they need to ship code that is accessible to everyone. In 2012, Jennison co-founded Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). GAAD takes place on the 3rd Thursday of May and is a day for people who work in the tech industry to learn more about digital access and inclusion. While he works in tech, Jennison is a huge advocate for learning and using Braille.


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Michael Forzano
Software Engineer, Retail Accessibility, Amazon

Michael is a software engineer on the Amazon Retail Accessibility team, where he develops automated testing tools used by Amazon engineers to ensure their web pages are accessible to everyone. He is also the co-founder of RS Games, a popular online gaming platform offering accessible board, card, and dice games accessible to the blind and visually impaired. Michael holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Binghamton University. He currently lives in New York City with his Seeing Eye dog, Katie.


Ted Henter
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Jyotsna Kaki
Title, Company


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Kisiah Timmons, MBA, CPACC
Principal Product Designer – Mobile Apps, Verizon Media

Kisiah has 14+ years of experience in accessibility, project management and consulting. She has worked in diverse sectors, including corporate, government, and non-profit. Since 2006, her professional emphasis has been on mobile computing devices and the apps that drive them. Kisiah is currently a Principal Product Designer at Verizon Media where she ensures apps are designed with all users in mind, including those with disabilities.

Kisiah’s passion for accessibility and universal design is driven by her own life’s journey. Within two years of graduating with an electrical engineering degree, she was diagnosed with a visual impairment. Her own experiences motivate her to help others as she is passionate about promoting the inclusion of accessibility and universal design in product development so that persons with disabilities have the opportunity to enjoy life to its fullest.

Kisiah holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Florida A&M University and a Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in innovation management from Drexel University. She became a Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies in 2016 with the purpose to better advocate for equal access to technology products and services for all, with an emphasis on promoting accessibility as a responsible business practice. She is a member of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals as well as the national engineering honor society, Tau Beta Pi. Her hobbies include conducting genealogy research, improving her fluency in the Spanish language, and inspiring minorities and girls to succeed in STEM studies.


Leonie Watson
Director, TetraLogical

Léonie is Director of TetraLogical; a member of the W3C Advisory Board; co-Chair of the W3C Web Applications Working Group; and a member of the BIMA Inclusive Design Council.

Amongst other things, Léonie is co-organiser of the Inclusive Design 24 (#id24) conference; co-author of the Inclusive Design Principles; and mentor to young people interested in the fields of accessibility and inclusive design. She is also a Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP).

Léonie is often found at conferences, talking about web standards, accessibility mechanics, and pushing the boundaries of inclusive design (with existing technologies like SVG, HTML, ARIA, and JavaScript, as well as new technologies like AI and WebVR). She has also written about some of these things for Smashing magazine, SitePoint.com, and Net magazine, as well as on her own site tink.uk.

In her spare time, Léonie likes reading, cooking, drinking tequila, and dancing (although not necessarily in that order)!

Presenters

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Sina Bahram
President and Founder, Prime Access Consulting, Inc.

Founder of the inclusive design firm Prime Access Consulting (PAC), Sina Bahram is an accessibility consultant, computer scientist, researcher, speaker, and entrepreneur. In 2012, Sina was recognized as a White House Champion of Change by President Barack Obama for his doctoral research work enabling users with disabilities to succeed in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. Believing that accessibility is sustainable when adopted as a culture, not just a tactic, Sina and his team work with executive management, policy makers, engineering teams, content creators, designers, and other stakeholders within institutions to promulgate accessibility and inclusive design throughout the fabric of an organization. Under Sina’s direction, PAC has helped over 100 organizations to meet and exceed their inclusivity goals, from the creation of accessible websites and mobile apps to achieving a comprehensive inclusive design methodology across the enterprise. In addition to serving on and chairing various boards, conferences, committees, and working groups across corporate, non-profit, and research entities, Sina serves as an invited expert on the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) working group where he helps shape the next generation of digital accessibility standards and best practices.

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Jennifer Bliss
STEM Consultant, Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Jennifer Bliss is the STEM Consultant for the Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired (IESBVI) where she collaborates with Iowa’s teachers of the visually impaired and mainstream classroom teachers in supporting Iowa’s students. Jennifer was a middle school science teacher for 14 years in Vinton, Iowa—the former home of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School. The braille school students who were mainstreamed into her science classroom inspired her to change her educational path. Creating environments where VI students can work alongside their sighted peers in learning and understanding STEM topics is the focus of her work.

Chancey Fleet
Title, Company

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Glen Gordon
Software Fellow, Freedom Scientific

Glen Gordon was the original architect of the JAWS screen reader and has spent over 25 years working to ensure that blind people running Windows can quickly and efficiently use applications to perform a diverse array of task. Blind since birth, his interest in accessibility developed out of a selfish desire to use Windows at a time when it was not at all clear that graphical user interfaces could be made accessible. He has an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School, a software development degree from the school of hard knocks and lots of frustration trying to use inaccessible software. It’s that personal frustration that continues to motivate his efforts to make things better both for himself and others.

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Dean Hudson
Accessibility Technical Evangelist, Env, Policy & Soc Initiatives, Apple, Inc.

Dean is the Accessibility Evangelist at Apple. In this role, Dean works with engineering and design teams to raise awareness of Apple’s accessibility work and influence product direction. Since joining Apple in 2006, Dean has been directly involved in the development of some of the most innovative accessibility features in the industry. This includes Apple’s groundbreaking VoiceOver screenreader technology for people who are blind or low vision; the first accessible smart wearable, Apple Watch; and other initiatives across the entire Apple ecosystem that support a culture of inclusion.

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Sara Larkin
Statewide Math Consultant, Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Sara Larkin taught high school math, computer programming, and computer networking for 18 years before becoming a statewide math consultant for the Iowa Educational Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired where she has been since 2007. She provides trainings and support to TVIs, classroom teachers, and para educators across the state of Iowa in the areas of math and computer science and has also provided short term programs in computer science to students who are blind or visually impaired. She is a co-author of the Pearson Nemeth Curriculum and a consultant for Project INSPIRE: Increasing the STEM Potential of Individuals Who Read Braille.

Ken Perry
Title, Company

Saqib Shaikh
Title, Company

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Headshot of Greg Stilson

Greg Stilson
Head Of Global Innovation, American Printing House for the Blind

Greg Stilson joined The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) in January of 2020 but has been building technology solutions for those who are blind or low vision for the past 15 years. While at HumanWare, a leading assistive technology manufacturer, Greg lead the development of such products as the BrailleNote Touch braille tablet, Trekker Breeze talking GPS device, Brailliant braille displays, and VictorReader accessible audio book devices, among others. He spent two years with a startup company Aira, developing the Aira app and smart glasses platform, to create access to on-demand visual information. In 2020 he joined APH to further develop access solutions for students in the classroom or virtually learning. When not working, Greg lives in Madison WI with his wife and two children. He is a huge sports fan, and loves wine making and home brewing.

Panelists

Ken Perry, Senior Software Engineer, American Printing House

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Darryl Adams, Accessible Computing Innovation Program Manager, Intel

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Austin Seraphin, Self-employed

Lucas is standing straight to the camera, with a big smile in a friendly posture. Behind him is possible to see San Francisco skyline, bridge and sea. The sky is cloudy. Lucas is wearing a green T-shirt with Google’s logo that has a dragon placed as the second O and G of the spelling.

Lucas Radaelli, MR, Google

Photo of Michael Forzano with his two dogs

Michael Forzano, Software Engineer, Retail Accessibility, Amazon

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Ka Li, Accessibility Analyst, Fable Tech Labs

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Joseph Hodge, Global Innovations Product Manager, APH

Dr. Peter Torpey (Moderator), Retired, Xerox Corporation

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Mike May (Moderator), Chief Evangelist, GoodMaps

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Alex Russomanno (Moderator), CEO, NewHaptics

Photo of Joe Jorgenson at Accessibyte booth with typio banner.

Joe Jorgenson, Founder, Accessibyte

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Amanda Rodda, Math and Computer Science Teacher, Teacher of the visually impaired, Washington State School for the Blind

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