Speakers for 2019

Friday November 15, 2019

Time: 9:30 – 10:30

 Location: Garnet Room

Presenter: Betty E. Schoen, M.A., C.R.C


Vocational Rehabilitation: A Partner for Career Success

Vocational rehabilitation agencies offer myriad of services including vocational assessment, soft skills development, career counseling, job placement, assistive technology, and on-the-job training. Specific services are tailored to meet an individual’s career goals.


Time: 9:30 – 10:30  

Location: Emerald
Presenter:  Brian Blackwell, Arizona Braille & Talking Book Library

How a Regular Book Becomes a Talking Book

Learn the inside process of how your audio book comes to your ears.


Time: 9:30 – 10:30  

Location: Sapphire  

Presenter Host: David Steinmetz


Guide Dog Users Panel

A panel of guide dog users and providers will discuss issues of guide dog use.  They will explain the process for acquiring a service animal and the user training requirements.  Dog handlers will talk about the pros and cons of using a guide. They will share their personal stories of freedom, frustration, joy and sorrow in their relationships with their dogs.


Time: 10:45 – 11:45  

Location: Keynote  

Presenter Host: Michael 'Big Dog' Abell, MSPC, LAC

“I didn’t sign-up for this and other surprises” a conversation

Our guest speakers who each came to blindness at different times in their lives’ will have a candid interactive conversation about their experiences with, loss, love and lessons learned. Host Michael “Big Dog” Abell, Narrative Therapist will guide the presenters talk about their life journeys with opportunities for some audience participation.

Time: 1:00 – 2:00

Location: Garnet Room

Presenter: Heidi L. Lervik, MA, CRC, ATP

Assistive Technology Resources You Need to Know

People with disabilities, their family members and service providers often struggle to know what type of assistive technology will help them in their everyday lives.  Many people purchase expensive equipment which is often unused or abandoned. The Arizona Technology Access Program (AzTAP) aims to address these issues by providing resources, demonstrations and complimentary short term trial use loaner equipment.

Time: 1:00 – 2:00  

Location: Emerald  

Presenter: Jack Burns

Social Security Programs and Benefits

Join Jack Burns, Public Affairs Specialist with the Social Security Administration (SSA) answers questions and shares information about the benefit programs and services provided through SSA

Time: 1:00 – 2:00  

Location: Sapphire  

Presenter: Brittaney M. Chipley, MPA

AZ ABLE “Achieving a Better Life Experience

The presentation will give attendees an overview of AZ ABLE, a savings and investment programs that offer persons with disabilities, their family, and their friends the option to contribute to a tax-exempt savings account for disability-related expenses. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) account programs can be life-changing, as it provides an opportunity for people with disabilities to save at least $15,000 a year without affecting their benefits.

Time: 2:15 – 3:15

Location: Garnet Room

Presenter: Jay Whipple M.S.Ed


Wayfinding Beacons

A Summary of the City of Tempe pilot project in which Bluetooth beacons are being used to help visually impaired individuals navigate the transit system.  Participants from SAAVI were invited to try a beacon-based service that provides real-time location and navigation information. The participants provided feedback, which can be used for system improvements. Jay Whipple will present a summary of the project funded by a grant from the Gila River Indian Community.

Time: 2:15 – 3:15

Location: Emerald  

Presenter: GCBVI AT & Employment Committees


AT-BVI (Blind/Visually Impaired) Worksite Evaluation

For people who are blind, work remains the best route to independence and enacting one's own choices. Assistive technology (AT) is often crucial in removing barriers to employment, and in enabling persons with disabilities to work more productively.  The Governor’s Council on Blindness and Visual Impairment Assistive Technology and Employment committees will address the importance and process of the Worksite evaluation. This will include identifying strength and needs of the employee, physical and technology environment, tasks and identification of the assistive technology tools.

Time: 2:15 – 3:15  

Location: Sapphire  

Presenter: Independent Living Services

Gadgets and Tips for safe and fun cooking

The State of Arizona Independent Living Blind (ILB) will discuss the use of gadgets and tips to cook safely for adults with vision loss. We will present low tech items that every family should know about when in the kitchen. The ILB staff will discuss organization, labeling, use of contrast and different tools for food preparation, cooking and food readiness.

Saturday November 16, 2019


Time: 9:30 – 10:30

Location: Garnet Room

Presenter: Shelbe Olson MT-BC, NMT'S

Music Therapy

Music therapy is a powerful, non-invasive, and non-pharmacological medium capable of unique outcomes. It is accessible to all and can be used with individuals, groups, or families. Music therapy is the specialized use of music by a credentialed professional who develops individualized treatment and supportive interventions for people of all ages and ability levels to address their social, communication, emotional, physical, cognitive, sensory, and spiritual needs.

Time: 9:30 – 10:30

Location: Emerald

Presenter: Arizona Science Center

Road Show

A science program of interest school-aged students, parents and teachers.


Time: 9:30 – 10:30

Location: Sapphire

Presenter: GCBVI Education Committee

The Education Committee of GCBVI will give an overview of the annual Arizona RSA Blind and Visually Impaired Youth Summer intensive programs.  Attendees will hear from AZRSA Vocational Rehabilitation, private agencies who conduct the programs, parents and teachers, and especially past participants.


Time: 10:45 – 11:45

Location: Grand room

Presenter: Keynote Kareem Neal

Arizona Educational Foundation’s 2019 Teacher of the Year.

Kareem Neal is a self-contained Special Education teacher in Phoenix, AZ. He has taught students with severe cognitive delays for 22 years. He is the recipient of the 2019 Arizona Teacher of the Year award and was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from Northern Arizona University for his contributions to special education in Arizona.

Time: 1:00 – 2:00

Location: Garnet Room

Presenter: Shelbe Olson MT-BC, NMT'S

Music Therapy ii

Response to rhythm is basic to human functioning making percussion activities and techniques highly motivating to people of all ages and backgrounds.

Time: 1:00 – 2:00

Location: Emerald

Presenter: Betty E. Schoen, M.A., C.R.C.


Vocational Rehabilitation: A Partner for Career Success

The choices young people make in their late teens and early twenties impact their earning potential and work opportunities for the rest of their lives. This presentation provides Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) utilization strategies for to better prepare young adults with disabilities to find, keep, and advance their employment.

Time: 1:00 – 2:00

Location: Sapphire

Presenter: Elizabeth Thompson

Arizona Braille and Talking Book Services for Youths

Elizabeth Thompson.librarian at Arizona Talking Book Library will discuss youth and family services available from the Library.  Elizabeth will give attendees an overview of BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) Program. She will focus on Youth Services for the blind and visually impaired. It will include tips on early literacy practices, the benefits of audio books and how to make your programming/activities inclusive for the whole family.

Time: 2:15 – 3:15

Location: Garnet Room

Presenter: Arizona Independent Living

The State of Arizona Independent Living Blind (ILB) will discuss the use of the Alexa Skill BluePrints to create accessible and educational games for persons with vision loss. These games can be designed to improve the students learning abilities and knowledge at school or home. The ILB staff will discuss how to create a new game utilizing existing templates and questions and how to make it available to the clients or students via Amazon Echo Dots or the Amazon Alexa App on their smart phone.  The audience will have an opportunity to participate in open discussion to share their own ideas regarding other potential areas of use for these games. 


Time: 2:15 – 3:15

Location: Emerald

Presenter: SAAVI Game Room


Activities for Young People of Every Age

Time: 2:15 – 3:15

Location: Sapphire

Presenter: Mike "Big Dog" Abell

Disability and the Family Dynamic 

Having a family member with a disability can affect the entire family; the parents, siblings, and extended family members. It is a unique shared experience for families and can affect all aspects of family functioning. On the positive side it can broaden horizons, increase family members’ awareness of their inner strength, enhance family cohesion, and encourage connections to community. 

2018 Speakers and Presentations included:


Town Hall Q&A

9:30 AM - 10:30 AM Garnet Room


Topic: Meet the people who represent the needs of the blind community to Arizona.

Governor's Council on the Blind and Visually Impaired


Blind Athletes: Get Inspired

9:30 AM - 10:30 AM  Diamond Room B

Blind and Visually Impaired Athletes

Topic: Hear stories of motivation from blind athletes who love to stay active.

Blind Athletes

How a Regular Book Becomes a Talking Book

9:30 AM - 10:30 AM Diamond Room A


Topic: Learn the inside process of how your audio book comes to your ears.

Arizona Braille & Talking Book Library

11 Tips to Help Maintain Independence Despite Visual Impairment

9:30 AM - 10:30 AM Emerald Room

Dr. Lynne Noon

Topic: Discussion of low vision devices and rehabilitation services to keep Independence.

Low Vision Diplomat

A Recipe for Success, Skills for Students with Blindness or VI

9:30 AM - 10:30 AM Ruby Room

SAVVI Instructors

Topic: Presented for the youth who are preparing for college. What you need to know.

Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired

Bluetooth Technology to Guide the Future of Accessibility

9:30 AM - 10:30 AM Jade Room

David Furukawa AND Tara Williams (FAR CEO)

Topic: Learn how to operate the FAR mobile app for use at VRATE 2018.

Foresight Augmented Reality (FAR)

Creating a Disability Friendly Smart Home

9:30 AM - 10:30 AM Sapphire Room

Bill Boules

Topic: Learn about the products that main-stream companies offer to help the blind.

National Assistive Technology Expert

GCBVI Assistive Technology Committee: Latest Trends in Technology

1:15 PM - 2:15 PM Emerald Room

GCBVI members

Topic: This two part presentation is a hit year after year. Come see what tech is new!

Governor's Council on Blindness & Visual Impairment

Who is Blind?: Be a Lion

1:15 PM - 2:15 PM Ruby Room

Sean Callagy

Topic: Overcome obstacles by having a mastery mindset. Set your trajectory for success.

Callagy Results Formula

Driving to Independence Even When Legally Blind

1:15 PM - 2:15 PM Jade Room

Jenny Nordine

Topic: Did you know with the right bi-optics some legally blind people drive? learn how.

Occupational Therapy

Visionaries: A Support Group for Those Adjusting to Vision Loss

1:15 PM - 2:15 PM Diamond Room A

Rev. Mike "Big Dog" Abell

Topic: Adjusting to blindness can be difficult, but it can be done! Join us.


Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Guide Dogs

1:15 PM - 2:15 PM Diamond Room B

Speakers with Guide Dogs

Topic: Get the low down on the good the bad and the silly that comes with a guide dog.

Guide Dog Panel

Knowing Your Rights & Responsibilities As A Client of the VR Program

1:15 PM - 2:15 PM Garnet Room

John Gutierez

Topic: Know your options and rights as you are getting back to work through VR.

Arizona Center for Disability Law

Diabetes Management & the Important Role of Nutrition

1:15 PM - 2:15 PM Sapphire Room

Bill Boules

Topic: Cases, different types, and how to independently manage


Hands on Demonstrations of independent living tools

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM Room The Vault

Various demonstrators

Topic: Some of the items will include kitchen tools, clocks, games, medical devices etc.

Volunteers to teach home living

Tips For Getting Hired

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM Diamond Room B

Pros on getting hired

Topic: Ask questions and get expert advice on the does and don'ts of getting the job!

The Employment Panel

Vision Workshop

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM Diamond Room A

Spring Representative

Topic: Discover steps you can take to LOVE your life: in health, vocation, or more time.

Sprint Wireless

All About Social Security

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM Jade Room

Jack Burns

Topic: Social Security overview for benefits and being legally blind.

Social Security Administration Public Affairs Specialist

Wearable Technologies

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM Sapphire Room

Bill Boules

Topic: Glasses, watches and even headsets are being built with accessible features!


Success as a Person with Combined Hearing & Vision Loss

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM  Garnet Room

Annette Reichman

Topic: High expectations with the right attitude and tools for overcoming obstacles.

Arizona Schools for the Deaf & Blind

Part 2 - GCBVI Assistive Technology Committee: Latest Trends in Technology

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM Room Emerald Room


Topic: This two part presentation is a hit year after year. Come see whats new in Tech.

Governor's Council on Blindness & Visual Impairment

Oh My Aching Back: Ergonomics for Low Vision

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM Room Ruby Room

Jenny Nordine

Topic: Learn how to compensate for overuse of parts of your body because of vision loss.

Occupation Therapy