Presenters, SOMA 2022
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Bill Adams is an Orientation & Mobility Specialist with the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services who specializes in working with people with multiple disabilities. He also uses his background in programing and IT to help those with disabilities use different assistive technology.
Dr. Ambrose-Zaken is president and CEO of Safe Toddles, Inventor of the pediatric belt cane, and orientation and mobility adjunct instructor for Hunter College of The City University of New York.
Maureen is a COMS/CLVT for the NJ VA VISOR Program. She has a MA in O&M from Western Michigan University and another Master's in Counseling Psychology. Maureen began her career teaching cross-country skiers with vision loss in 1985 in Vermont. She is a professional in blind rehabilitation of 31 years, teaching every aspect to all age groups. She has worked in private, state, and federal agencies throughout her career. Maureen's first O&M position was in the mountains of North Carolina and she attended her first conference at the 1992 SOMA Conference in Charleston. She has no formal art education, but found learning to paint through Paint & Sip type classes to be a great stress reliever and canvas to creativity. Maureen believes in helping others open their creative beings to teach and understand challenges more effectively.
Beezy Bentzen, COMS, PhD - Beezy Bentzen is an O&M specialist, having taught people who are visually impaired to travel independently for more than 30 years. She is best known for her research on improving environmental access for people who are visually impaired including such means as large print, tactile, and electronic signs, audible signs, tactile maps, accessible pedestrian signals, visual contrast, detectable warnings, and various wayfinding technologies. She is Director of Research at Accessible Design for the Blind.
Tiffany has served as a TVI/COMS in various school districts across the state of Florida for the last 17 years, including five years as the Coordinator for the Vision Program in Hillsborough County. She is passionate about this great field and committed to supporting the provision of best practices for all the children/clients we serve.
Danene Fast is an Assistant Professor – Clinical and Faculty Lead for the Programs in Visual Impairment within the Department of Teaching and Learning at The Ohio State University. She is dually certified as an orientation and mobility specialist and teacher of students with visual impairments.
Erika Fundelius is a TVI, COMS, and a 4th year doctoral candidate at Florida State University in the visual disabilities program. She is in the middle of her dissertation and is looking forward to graduating May 2023. She has worked as an itinerant TVI and currently provides O&M services to adults in the Tallahassee area.
Dr. Tina Herzberg is a Professor and Coordinator of the Visual Impairment Program at the University of South Carolina Upstate. She 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/English teacher, an itinerant teacher of students with visual impairment, a certified O&M specialist and team leader for a regional service center.
Dr. Justin Kaiser is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Kentucky and teaches in the programs to prepare O&M specialists and teachers of students with visual impairments.
Dr. Kaiser is certified as a TVI and as an O&M Specialist, and serves as a Board Member of the O&M Specialists Association.
Dr. Kaiser has been involved in many research projects and conference presentations.
Howard Kaplan created and is the head of the Advanced Visualization Center at the University of South Florida, a campus wide resource that provides development and training on many technologies . He uses multiple technology tools and techniques as a means of study and application for academics and research projects. He received a BFA from Ringling College of Art and Design, a Masters of Education in Instructional Technology, and a Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of South Florida.
Rikilynn Layher is a COMS and CVRT with experience working in adult residential and summer programs, as a private contractor, and in the public school setting. She has spent the last 15 years at Saginaw ISD in Michigan."
Elaine Mara holds a master’s in Higher Education Administration. After working as a postsecondary disability services coordinator and with high school students with visual impairments, Elaine is currently pursuing certification as a teacher of students with visual impairments and orientation & mobility specialist from Florida State University.
Parker, Amy T.
Kristy earned her master’s degree in orientation and mobility from Western Michigan University, and completed her internship at Southeastern Blind Rehabilitation Center in Birmingham, AL. Kristy has a cat at home named Rosa who loves to lounge around the house. Kristy likes hiking, swimming and chasing her toddler.
Dona Sauerburger, COMS, is still excited about O&M after more than 50 years as an O&M specialist!
She has published, presented, and researched on street crossing and working with deafblind people.
Her current passions include doing workshops for Braver Angels to help bring people together with understanding, and for Magissa to support activists.
Tommy graduated from Western Michigan University with his master’s degree in orientation and mobility. He thrives on the creative approaches to O&M encouraged at Leader Dog. He is particularly fond of taking O&M clients on hikes at the nearby state parks.
Jolene Troisi, TVI, COMS, received her M.Ed. and TVI & O&M certification at the University of Pittsburgh.
She has worked as a TVI & COMS for 18 years, serving adults, school-age students, and birth-3 in PA, OH, and WV.
She has taught TVI/O&M classes for Pitt and supervises O&M interns.
Garret served in the United States Marine Corps for four years as a rifleman team leader.
After being honorably discharged, he graduated from Western Michigan University with a master's degree in orientation and mobility. Garret enjoys going on hikes and fishing.
Wall Emerson, Robert
Robert Wall Emerson, Ph.D. is a certified orientation and mobility specialist and faculty member at Western Michigan University. He has served as a Department Chair, is currently serving as the Associate Editor for Research for the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, is a member of the Pedestrian Committee of the Transporation Review Board, and is an editor of the fourth edition of the Foundations of O&M.
William Wiener, Ph.D. is a certified orientation and mobility specialist with more than 50 years experience practicing and teaching in the discipline. He has served as a Department Chair, Graduate Dean, and vice Provost for Research. He is currently the Brenda Brodie Endowed Chair at North Carolina Central University.
He and his co-presenter Dr. Rob Wall Emerson are authors and editors of the upcoming Foundations Book.
Stephanie Welch-Grenier is a doctoral student at The Ohio State University in the visual impairment program. She has received a Master’s of Arts degree and Master’s of Education degree. Stephanie is a Certified Vocational Rehabilitation Therapist and a Certified O&M Specialist.
Anne Zanger has been a COMS for 15 years with Genesee ISD.