Keynote

Dr. Kimberly Ofori-Sanzo

Kimberly Ofori-Sanzo is the founder of Language First and a speech-language pathologist (SLP) who is committed to educating parents and professionals on the neurological effects of a late or incomplete first language acquisition for Deaf and hard of hearing children. She has given presentations on a variety of topics related to bilingualism, language acquisition, and language deprivation, and is dedicated to changing the way that SLPs understand and work with Deaf children.

This presentation will discuss ways to support bi- and multilingual language development in the home. It will include strategies to promote full access to language and the development of early literacy skills in Deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children.

Birth – Elementary School workshops

Katrina Aristy

Katrina Aristy was born and raised in the sunshine state of Florida!  She has been in the field of deaf education as a teacher and department chairperson for 15 years, teaching children from preschool to high school.  Currently, she serves as a Family Educator at Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD)  and has been a Shared Reading Project Tutor for more than 15 years.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in business from Florida International University and Master of Arts in Deaf Education: Family-Centered Early Education from Gallaudet University.  In her spare time, Katrina enjoys traveling around the world and learning about different cultures!

This interactive workshop will give participants a glimpse into how to incorporate book sharing/read aloud strategies based on 15 researched-based principles.  Participants will explore using various techniques in ASL storytelling.  All participants will have the opportunity to engage in using books, role play, and other interactive activities that incorporate the 15 principles of reading aloud to deaf children.

Tara Miles

Tara J. Miles hails from the steel mill city of Youngstown, Ohio.  She received her formal education through the Youngstown’s public school system Deaf and Hard of Hearing program. She has been involved in the deaf education field for over 23 years serving in various capacities from teacher to school administrator at the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Center.  She has extensive experience in the area of family engagement and family education.  She served as an instructor in transition, performing arts, and Lead Teacher.  Currently she is employed at Clerc Center as a manager for Family Education overseeing all aspects of family education at both demonstration schools. She also serves as an adjunct professor of Social Work at Gallaudet and is the head coach for the GU Cheer Team. She holds a B.A degree in Early Childhood Education, Master’s of Arts in Family-Centered Early Education, and a Master’s of Social Work, all from Gallaudet University.   In her spare time, Tara enjoys traveling, shopping, and sharing the gift of dance to deaf youth.

This interactive workshop will give participants a glimpse into how to incorporate book sharing/read aloud strategies based on 15 researched-based principles.  Participants will explore using various techniques in ASL storytelling.  All participants will have the opportunity to engage in using books, role play, and other interactive activities that incorporate the 15 principles of reading aloud to deaf children.

Dr. Sarah Sparks

Dr. Sparks is a deaf audiologist who communicates in both ASL and spoken English and uses cochlear implants to hear. She is a full time educational audiologist within Baltimore City Public Schools and has a small online audiologist counseling and aural (re)habilitation business called Audiology Outside the Box.

How can communication in daily life be made more accessible for my deaf or hard of hearing child? What can we do to ensure that my child is included fully in communication throughout the day”? These are common questions for parents and guardians of DHH children. Daily communication during regular daily activities provides many opportunities for language and social-emotional development. This presentation will address the questions above, providing practical tools and strategies to support your family in ensuring that your child is fully included in conversations and has as many incidental learning opportunities as possible!

Middle School – High School workshops

Daniel M. Brucker

Daniel was born and raised in Schenectady, NY to two hearing parents. As a deaf child, he was truly fortunate that American Sign Language was already accessible at home, as his older brother was born deaf, and his mother was a teacher of the deaf. His father learned ASL as well, and several years later, his younger brother was born hearing, but still learned ASL from birth. Daniel attended mainstream schools all his life, and enrolled in Rochester Institute of Technology, majoring in Film / Video / Animation, with a stagecraft track. After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2010, he immediately started graduate school in National Technical Institute for the Deaf’s Master of Science in Secondary Education of Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. He graduated with a Master’s degree in 2012, and eventually moved to Philadelphia, PA where he has been living for the last 11 years. He has been active in the PSD community, from being an English Language Arts teacher in the high school cluster to being an assistant coach for the school track & field team to directing two full-length theatrical productions. Currently, he is working as the Library Manager and as the Library & Literature teacher for students of all ages!

During his entire life, Daniel has been always an avid gamer, a frequent reader, and an enthusiastic movie buff! He is very excited to share his personal experiences and to advocate for all deaf and hard-of-hearing children in being included in family & home entertainment!

 

Home entertainment has been on the rise in the last few years, from books to online streaming contents to video games. However, home entertainment may not always be 100% accessible for children who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. This workshop will introduce various ways to include your deaf or hard of hearing child, and by the end of the workshop, you will bring home new resources and boosted mindsets to have your child feel like they can be part of family gatherings for home entertainment!

Melissa Hawkins

Melissa Hawkins has served as the Director of the PA Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing since April 23, 2018.

Previously, she was the Executive Director of the Disability Empowerment Center (DEC) since 2013. DEC is a private, nonprofit, nonresidential organization and Center for Independent Living providing services and support to individuals in Lancaster and Lebanon counties. In 2014, Lancaster County Community Foundation selected Melissa as one of their Baldwin Fellows.

Melissa graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Behavioral Sciences. Her graduate studies include course work at Gallaudet University, as well as George Washington University. She graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with a dual Master’s of Science in Human Resources and Adult Learning and has earned a Certificate in Competence and Confidence Partners in Policymaking from Temple University.

Hawkins was recently awarded the Governor’s Award of Excellence for her work ensuring the COVID Pandemic coverage was accessible for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deafblind population. 

She lives in New Cumberland PA with her husband and children.

This workshop will provide the rights and wrongs of advocacy. A brief overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act and Pennsylvania Laws and how they apply to effective communication for individuals including students with hearing loss. The workshop will also give further understanding and guidance for the deaf/HOH/DB individual and or their family during any public or private agency interactions.

 Denise Brown

Denise Brown is a representative for Labor and Industry’s Office for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ODHH) in Allentown, Pa over 26 years. 

Working for ODHH is something Denise loves, and, while she shared that her job involves many different tasks, at ODHH, she primarily helps provide advocacy, information and referrals for residents of Pa experiencing hearing loss.

Born and raised in Allentown, Pa, Denise has been working for the Commonwealth for over 25 years! Before ODHH, she gained experience in various jobs and internships and also spent two years in another country working for the Peace Corps after graduating from New York University. Denise loves dogs and walking her dogs is one of her favorite pastimes. Fun fact: During the pandemic, while on one of her daily walks with her golden retriever Elmo, she found a stray dog and adopted it. Another one of her favorite pastimes is travel. Denise shared that it was her time spent serving in the Peace Corps that helped her understand and enjoy travel. She loves to learn how people who are deaf all around the world grew up.

This workshop will provide the rights and wrongs of advocacy. A brief overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Rehabilitation Act and Pennsylvania Laws and how they apply to effective communication for individuals including students with hearing loss. The workshop will also give further understanding and guidance for the deaf/HOH/DB individual and or their family during any public or private agency interactions.