I consider myself an Inclusive Learning Evangelist: my mission is to help educators create more inclusive learning environments for all students through the implementation Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles, the selection of appropriate assistive technology for those students who need it to overcome barriers to learning, and the authoring of accessible content. As someone who has a visual impairment, I have experienced firsthand how technology can improve the lives of people with disabilities in a positive and meaningful way. I now share this personal experience and my expertise in the field of inclusive design as a keynote speaker and author.
I recently completed my doctorate in special education from the University of South Florida (USF), and while I pursued my graduate studies I worked for the Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT) at USF. At FCIT, I had the privilege of being on the staff for both the Laptop Initiative and the iTeach Initiative, two programs that provide training and support on Apple Technologies to faculty and students in the USF College of Education. I was also the project manager Tech Ease for All, a collection of free assistive technology and web accessibility tutorials for teachers.
In recognition of my accomplishments in the field of educational technology, in 2009 I was one of 52 educators in the U.S. selected to join the 2009 class of the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE)Program. ADEs are a select group of K-12 and higher education professionals with an identified expertise in educational technology. In early 2013, I was named to the Advisory Board for the ADE program.
More about me…
For the past decade or so, I have lived with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a progressive disease of the retina (to learn more about RP, visit this site). Rather than thinking of my disability as a limitation, I see it as an opportunity to use my experiences to help others who have similar disabilities. I do not let my disability define what I can and cannot do, and I’m always looking for new challenges to tackle. I love to travel, and when I visited Peru in 2007 I had the opportunity to climb Wayna Picchu (the mountain you see in the background in all the pictures of Machu Picchu). Even though it took me a lot longer than most to get up the mountain, I did not let that stop me. I was successful in climbing up to the terraces at the top of Wayna Picchu for these pictures.
Photos by Shannon White.
Another example of my attitude about my disability is my love for photography. Despite the fact that I only have about 10 degrees of central vision, I continue to work on my craft as a photographer. These days, most of my photos are taken with my iPhone, as it is the most accessible camera I know and the one I always have with me. My iPhoneography can be seen on my Instagram page.
While I have focused on technology for the last 13 years, I have an eclectic professional background that I consider an asset. My previous jobs have included the following:
- Technical specialist for the Delsea Regional School District in New Jersey. I credit this job with providing me with a solid foundation in all areas of educational technology, from hardware to networking.
- Help desk manager and webmaster for Deloitte Consulting (now Braxton Consulting) in Philadelphia.
- Program assistant for the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project of the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker humanitarian service organization).
- 9th and 10th grade Spanish teacher at the Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia.
I did my undergraduate studies in political science at Haverford College in Pennsylvania, and I am also an alumn of the Westtown School, a Quaker boarding school in Pennsylvania. Although I am not a Quaker, I appreciate the influence my Quaker education has had in making me an advocate for equality and social justice for everyone, including people with disabilities. An example of my efforts in this area is the following video I did for the East Hillsborough Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind to raise awareness about the need to observe white cane safety laws to ensure the safety of blind pedestrians: