Speakers (2018)

Valerie Fletcher (Keynote Speaker)

portrait of Valerie FletcherValerie Fletcher is Executive Director of the Institute for Human Centered Design (IHCD), an international educational and design non-profit organization celebrating 40 years in 2018. IHCD is dedicated to inclusive multidisciplinary design as the key to holistic solutions that minimize functional limitation and enhance experience for everyone.  Fletcher writes, lectures and works internationally. She generates opportunities for IHCD and has broad oversight of all educational programs as well as consulting and design services. Her research focus is integrating data from contextual inquiry research findings into physical and technological design solutions in higher education, culture, workplace, healthcare, multifamily housing and the public realm.

She is Councilor for the International Association for Universal Design (IAUD) in Japan. Fletcher has a master’s degree in ethics and public policy from Harvard University. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Boston Architectural College.

Maliheh Aghanasiri

portrait of Maliheh AghanasiriMaliheh(Mali) Aghanasiri is a User Researcher at Liberty Mutual Insurance where she uses various research methodologies and facilitates design thinking exercises to uncover problems and deliver insights to digital portfolios to empower design decisions.

Mali has more than 8 years of experience in UX field working at UXC Bentley University, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Livewell collaborative, and Sepinood Design.

Mali graduated from Bentley University’s Master’s program in Human Factors in Information Design in 2017. She also has a Master of Design degree from University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, and a BFA degree in Industrial Design from University of Tehran.

Mali is passionate about inclusive design and creating delightful experiences for all.

Rivka Barrett

portrait of Rivka BarrettRivka Barrett is a full-time graduate student in Bentley University’s Human Factors in Information Design program, while working part-time as an UX Research Intern at Liberty Mutual Insurance. Rivka has several years of experience focusing on products and services for people with disabilities. After graduating with a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2012, Rivka spent a year in Australia as a Fulbright Scholar, where she evaluated a mentoring program for young adults with hearing loss. Her other experiences include working at a nonprofit for youth with disabilities, coordinating marketing and user support at an assistive technology startup, and evaluating a mobile app and dashboard for behavioral health patients and clinical social workers at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. As a person who uses cochlear implants and is passionate about accessibility, Rivka is excited to be attending the Boston Accessibility Conference.

Margy Bergel

portrait of Margy BergelMarguerite “Margy” Bergel is Director of Digital Accessibility at Fidelity Investments where she is part of Fidelity’s User Experience Design team. Fidelity’s Digital Accessibility program involves training and empowering teams to design and develop with Accessibility in mind, creating and maintaining Accessibility testing tools, auditing products, working with vendors, informing policy, handling customer complaints, and conducting user research with people of all disabilities. Margy presents on usability, accessibility and design topics at conferences like CSUN, CHI, HCII, UXPA, and World Usability Day. She taught for many years at the John Slatin AccessU Conference organized by Knowbility, has taught at Bentley University, and is thrilled to be hosting the Boston Accessibility Conference this year.

Ann Chadwick-Dias, Fidelity

Ann Chadwick-DiasAnn Chadwick-Dias is Director of User Experience Research at Fidelity Investments. Her teams conduct User Research on platforms for Fidelity’s Workplace and Institutional clients and focus on usability and accessibility across channels. She has presented on topics related to universal usability at numerous conferences. She has taught in Bentley University’s graduate program for Human Factors in Information Design and periodically guest lectures at WPI. She has numerous publications in the field, has partnered with AARP on such initiatives as “Older, Wiser, Wired” and has co-authored a book chapter on Web design in the Handbook of Human Factors and Computing Systems.

Matthew Crist

portrait of Matthew Crist Matthew Crist is a Principal Experience Designer at Cantina Consulting who has helped create exciting digital platforms for our clients. He has spent more than two decades designing and developing product experiences in a variety of industries, most notably for Formula One teams, financial services firms, and sports entertainment. Prior to Cantina, he worked for the City of Boston as the Lead Developer in the Department of Innovation & Technology. He helped develop a new digital experience for Boston.gov, created a pattern library for future app development, and worked to make Boston’s digital properties more inclusive.

Elisa Edelberg

portrait of Elisa EdelbergElisa Edelberg is a Content Marketing Specialist at 3Play Media. She creates and produces educational content related to all things web and video accessibility. You can find her blogs, white papers and webinars online or see her present live at accessibility-focused conferences around the country. Her passion for making the world a more accessible and equal place is what inspires her to continue working on projects such as Faces Behind the Screen, which showcases the experiences of those who are d/Deaf, hard of hearing, blind, and low vision. Outside of the office you may find Elisa begging to pet strangers’ dogs on the Boston Common or puzzling over a DIY home improvement project.

Luis Garcia

portrait of Luis GarciaLuis Garcia is a Senior Product Manager for Accessibility at eBay. In his spare time, he contributes to the Silver Accessibility Guidelines and works on various accessibility related side projects. He sometimes plays video games.

Becky Gibson

portrait of Becky GibsonBecky is a recognized leader in Web Accessibility with over 30 years of diverse experience in corporate and open-source software product development. She is the Director of Accessibility at Open Access Technologies. Her passion is Web Accessibility advancement and evangelism that impacts products, customer strategies, and industry standards.

Sofia Leiva

portrait of Sofia LeivaAs Marketing Programs Specialist at 3Play Media, Sofia Leiva is in charge of creating numerous resources on the importance of video accessibility including blogs, white papers, and webinars. She firmly believes that online accessibility is more important than ever before and is passionate about helping organizations learn about the invaluable benefits it can bring. In her free time, you’ll find Sofia hiking, baking vegan treats, or watching conspiracy documentaries on Netflix.

Lisa Lowery

portrait of Lisa Lowery.Lisa Lowery is Senior User Experience Researcher at Liberty Mutual Insurance.

Parinay Malik

Parinay MalikI am Parinay Malik, and I am hard of hearing. I am an Inclusive Design Thinker, Innovation Strategist and Lead Sr Analyst at Fidelity Investments. I hold Bachelors of Science in Business Management and Information Technology from Rochester Institute of Technology and recently graduated with Masters in Business Administration from Babson College (Entrepreneurship and Finance) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Business Analytics). At Fidelity, as an innovation strategist in partnership with executives, I am leading the efforts to execute an enterprise-wide strategy to instill Inclusive Design Thinking and Learning Environment for powerful customer experience. I am a keynote speaker at various notable prestigious universities such as Harvard University or Back End Innovation conference. Additionally, I am the board of director at RIT NTID and Deaf INC, where I lead committees in business development.

Keith W. Marion

portrait of Keith MarrionKeith W. Marion is the Director of Inclusion for the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. He reports to the Chief Inclusion officer and supports an organization of 1,200+ employees where inclusion is a core value and business imperative. In his role as Director, Keith is responsible for strategic goal setting and organizational alignment for cross-functional business engagement, development, growth, and innovation. His approach utilizes Inclusion as a strategic business lever for employees, partners, communities, in the marketplace, across the enterprise, and with suppliers.

Keith graduated from Lincoln University, PA with Bachelor of Science degrees in both Business Administration and Finance as a double major. Keith is an active participant in many business and community affairs including YMCA Achievers Board member, Blue Hills Boys & Girls Club Board member, Project REACH, The New England Basketball Academy, and The Boston Bobcat Foundation. The Boston Business Journal and YMCA of Greater Boston have honored him for outstanding achievements.

Keith resides in Boston, Massachusetts with his wife Robin and son Mason. He enjoys spending time with family and friends, adventure activities, sports and coaching. He is passionate about the work for visually impaired.

Peter McNally

portrait of Peter McNallyPeter McNally is a Senior UX Consultant at the User Experience Center at Bentley University. Pete has more than 20 years’ experience in usability, information architecture, accessibility, and software engineering. His current areas of interests include the intersection of user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX), universal design, and the UX of Blockchain.

Regardless of the area or technology, Pete always focuses on the human at the end of the product, so they can have the most seamless and engaging experience. He has worked with users and designed digital experiences in the financial services, healthcare, government, education, energy, manufacturing, defense, and electronics industries.

Prior to joining the center, Pete was a Principal Consultant in the CSC User Experience Practice, Senior User Experience Architect at HP Enterprise Services, Research Officer at University of Hertfordshire in the UK, and Senior Software Engineer at 3M Health Information Systems.  Pete holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Northeastern University and a Master of Science in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). He is a member of the International User Experience Professionals’ Association (UXPA), Boston UXPA, Boston CHI. Pete holds the Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) credential from the IAAP (International Association of Accessibility Professionals).

Fallon Parker

portrait of Fallon ParkerFallon Parker is a User Researcher at Liberty Mutual Insurance Solaria Labs.  “As a user researcher, I work to keep the customer at the center of the product development cycle. At Solaria, this means interviewing our customers as early as possible to learn about the various pains they face while striving for their goals. In this fast paced environment, I focus on bringing the right design thinking methodologies to the product team to help us solve the right problem.”

Grace Phang

portrait of Grace Phang.Grace Phang is a User Researcher at Liberty Mutual Insurance.  She received a double major in Anthropology and Neuroscience from Dartmouth College and a Master of Science in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley University.

With her visually-impaired sister, she co-founded FabHatters, a fashion business that specializes in avant-garde, attention grabbing hats.  Her interest in accessibility stems from her experience working with disadvantaged groups in Los Angeles, the Bronx, and rural Vermont as well as her work as a tutor for people with physical and intellectual disabilities.  She is passionate about incorporating both quantitative and qualitative user research into empathy driven designs and experiences.

Ramakrishna (Ram) Raju

portrait of Ram RajuRam Raju is the founder and volunteer executive director of Vision-Aid a non profit serving the visually impaired. Ram has over 25 years of experience as a Technical Architect in the IT industry and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronics Engineering from BIT Mesra, India, a Masters Degree in Computer Since from the Pennsylvania State University, and is currently completing his Masters Degree in Information Management Systems from the Harvard University Extension School. Ram is passionate about creating an inclusive environment for persons with vision related disabilities.

John Rochford

portrait of John RochfordJohn has been developing accessible Websites, Web applications, and online courses since the early 1990s. In 2009, he started exploring and experimenting with best practices of Web accessibility for people with cognitive disabilities, particularly intellectual disabilities. He now conducts research in and develops mass-scale, artificial-intelligence-driven Web text simplification for people with cognitive disabilities.

John is the Director of the INDEX Program, which provides free information about community resources for Massachusets residents with disabilities. (See DisabilityInfo.org). John is a faculty member at UMass Medical School’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, a research, education, and service center for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. John is an Invited Expert on the World Wide Web Consortium’s Cognitive Accessibility Task Force, Low Vision Accessibility Task Force, and Silver Community Group. John is also a co-founder and a co-organizer of the Boston Accessibility Group.

Connect with John on LinkedIn
Follow John on Twitter: @ClearHelper

Mike Ryan

portrait of Mike RyanMike is a Principal User Researcher at Liberty Mutual Insurance delivering insights to drive the design of a portfolio of digital products. Mike has been working in user experience since 1995 for companies including Thomson Reuters, Trend Micro, HP, Staples, Welch’s, Keds, and The MathWorks. He graduated from Bentley University’s Master’s Program in Human Factors and Information Design in May 2008. Mike has taught a Graduate Level course in Mobile Usability at Northeastern University. He has served as UXPA Boston board member and has presented at the Boston UXPA Conference. He has presented at UXPA International and served as a Session Chair and planning committee member.

Kartik Sawhney

portrait of Kartik SawhneyKartik Sawhney is a software engineer at Microsoft working on the Cortana team. He graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science last year focusing on artificial intelligence and human computer interaction. He is passionate about the intersection of AI and accessibility, and has worked on a variety of technical projects in the accessibility space over the years. He is the co-founder at I-Stem, an organization that seeks to promote and support blind students in India pursuing STEM courses and careers through technical training, mentorship, hands-on activities, awareness campaigns and by working closely with the Government, universities and corporates. He has not only taken MOOCs as a blind student, but is also running I-Stem’s technical training program that integrates with several computer science classes available on these online platforms.

Dr. Charles Severance (Dr. Chuck)

portrait of Charles SeveranceDr. Chuck is a legendary Coursera educator from the University of Michigan whose course “Programing for Everyone” taught via Coursera is rated by Class Central to be one of the top 20 MOOCs in the world.Dr. Charles “Chuck” Russell Severance is an American computer scientist and academic who currently serves as Clinical Associate Professor of Information at the University of Michigan. His programming course, offered over Coursera is very highly rated and popular. Dr. Severance studied at Michigan State University, gaining his BS in 1984, his MS in 1990, and his PhD in 1996, all in computer science. After graduation, he became an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Michigan State, also serving as Director of the Division of Engineering Computer Services. He left this role in 1999 to become Associate Director for Advanced Technology at the University of Michigan’s Media Union, and left the institution entirely in 2001 to serve as Director of Product Development for Strategic Interactive. In August 2002, he returned to the University of Michigan as the first Chief Architect of the Sakai Project, later becoming a member of the Sakai Foundation Board of Directors, and then its first Executive Director. Vision-Aid has taught Dr. Chuck’s course to our visually impaired students for over 5 semesters, and several students have gone on to become proficient in Python programming, and gone on to pursue higher educational opportunities, as well as participate in events such as the Inclusive Stem (i-Stem) hackathons and securing internships and employment.

Aditi Shah

portrait of Aditi Shah Aditi Shah is currently pursuing her Masters in Cyber Security at Georgia Institute of Technology. She also owns a Masters in Information Technology from University of Mumbai. She has been an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker and has worked with Iraje as a Product Manager for 5 years where she led the development of a Privileged Access Management solution which secures some of the biggest Data Centers in India. She is passionate about Accessibility and volunteers with Coursera.org as a beta tester for ensuring accessibility of upcoming courses. She has been training visually impaired kids to use computers over the last 8 years and has also volunteered with Blind Graduate’s Forum of India as Secretary. Aditi enrolled in Vision-Aid’s Python Programming course for Visually Impaired students last Fall and since then has been walking on the path of Online learning. She has completed and earned several certificates on MOOC platforms like edX and Coursera. She believes that MOOCs have a great potential to transform the lives of Visually Impaired students, giving them quality education beyond any barriers that blindness brings in.

Janell Sims

portrait of Janell SimsJanell Sims directs the content design and strategy for the main Harvard Law School website (hls.harvard.edu), and provides training and guidance on accessibility, user experience, and web best practices for the community of online authors at HLS. She also works as a consultant providing communications and social media strategy to individuals and small businesses.

Janell is recognized as a thought leader in the online space: she leads seminars and workshops across Harvard and at conferences throughout the year on topics such as UX, content strategy, writing for the web, SEO, and accessibility. This fall, she was invited to be a member of the UAC Digital Accessibility Working Group, a select group of individuals from across Harvard University to evaluate the current state of accessibility at Harvard, and recommend the adoption of policies, practices, and resources to maximize accessibility of Harvard websites. Janell advocates relentlessly for advancing web accessibility at Harvard Law School. She works with the Harvard Web Accessibility office and Harvard Law IT leadership to identify and execute strategies to improve the site to comply with industry standards, avoid legal repercussions, and make the HLS website accessible to all.

Follow Janell on Twitter: https://twitter.com/janellsims
Connect with Janell on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/janellsims/

Jeanne Spellman

portrait of Jeanne SpellmanJeanne Spellman joined the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) from 2008 to 2015 as the team contact for the Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines Working Group, User Agent Accessibility Guidelines Working Group and the Mobile Accessibility Task Force. Jeanne joined the Paciello Group in 2016 and became a member of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Working Group. She is currently co-facilitator of the Silver Task Force and co-chair of the W3C Silver Community Group.

Bob Thomas

portrait of Bob ThomasBob Thomas is Director of User Experience Research at Liberty Mutual, where he has worked to expand usability best practices and build out a user experience team. His background includes usability research and testing, graphic design, and product management, and he has over 20 years of experience in the technology industry.

Bob holds an MS in Human Factors in Information Design from Bentley College, an MBA from Suffolk University, and a Bachelors in English from the University of Nebraska. He also has a graphic design certificate from Northeastern University.

Before joining Liberty Mutual, Bob was a Research Associate in the Design and Usability Center (DUC) at Bentley University. He played critical roles in testing and evaluation projects for clients such as Partners Healthcare, Siemens, the New York State Department of Health, Historic New England, XaR, and a manufacturer of insulin pumps.

Before joining the DUC, Bob was the Director of Product Management for Bitstream in Cambridge, Massachusetts, managing typeface design and font technology products.

Rachel Young

portrait of Rachel YoungRachel Young is an Associate Systems Services Support Technician at Fidelity Investments. Prior to this, Rachel completed Fidelity’s Leap program, a selective development program for technologists. At Fidelity, Rachel is also a member of the Enable employee resource group in which she advocates for and raises awareness about accessibility and inclusion for both employees and customers.

In college, Rachel designed her own degree and became the first person to graduate from Rhode Island College with a Bachelor of Science in Bioinformatics (a combination of genetics, biology, computer science, and mathematics) and a minor in computer science. In her free time, Rachel likes to blog about her everyday experiences and life with Cerebral Palsy. Having a disability can be challenging both physically and mentally, but Rachel is determined to keep breaking down the barriers and pave the way for people with disabilities.

Within the next year, Rachel plans to pursue a master’s in Engineering or Law.