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2020 ATHEN Virtual Conference

Humans behind the Tech

Join us for ATHEN's Virtual Conference Event! This virtual conference will highlight the "Humans behind the Tech." Presenters will discuss their use of, and experiences with, Assistive Technologies and our digital environment. Additionally, attendees will have an opportunity to ask questions and share their perspectives. 


  • Dates: Tuesdays, June 16, 2020 - July 7, 2020 
    • June 16, 2020 
    • June 23, 2020 - Session postponed to 7/7. No session will take place on 6/23/20.
    • June 30, 2020
    • July 7, 2020
  • Time: 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM (Pacific) / 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM (Eastern)
  • Cost: Free for ATHEN members. Not an ATHEN member? Join ATHEN to participate
  • Platform: All sessions will be conducted using the Zoom platform.
  • To participate: Register for the Virtual Conference


June 16, 2020 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM (Pacific) / 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM (Eastern)

Guest Speaker: Darren Gabbert

Topic: Single Switch Scanning: Strategies, Outcomes & Keys to Success will introduce the technology access method of single-switch scanning for power users, address longstanding perceptions of it’s efficacy, and present a case study showing best practices for optimized switch access.

June 23, 2020 - Session cancelled

June 30, 2020 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM (Pacific) / 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM (Eastern)

Guest Speaker: Robert Beach

Topic: Robert will explain what a screen reader is and how it differs from a text reader. He will discuss the products he has used and how the technology has changed over the years. He will also share thoughts on the current state of accessibility for screen reader technology. Participants will better understand the important role assistive technology plays in the lives of individuals with disabilities.

July 7, 2020 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM (Pacific) / 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM (Eastern)

Guest Speaker: Wink Harner

Topic: How voice recognition software changed my life. My personal experience in choosing, training, and customizing Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software. From a birth defect and accommodations in grade school in the 50s before the ADA went into effect, to diagnosis by Johns Hopkins genetic research center in the 60s, to being given an F in a graduate class because of illegible handwriting, and to now more than 60 reconstructive operations, finding a way to use software rather than my hands in order to get things "down on paper" literally as fast as my brain can think.

  • I have used and adapted dictation software since the early 80s when IBM first released it under ViaVoice. I have used it in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and now I use it in math. I edit textbooks, create alternative texts in math & chemistry using dictation software. I write books & scholarly research articles, do PowerPoint presentations with a Bluetooth mic in Portuguese in the classroom, I dictate scripts for YouTube presentations and use the dictated text for the captions. I even created macros so that I can dictate braille in the dot 6 format.
  • I use a portable recording device which allows me to choose other voices (other speakers) as a dictation source.
  • I use voice control to operate the computer & do web surfing.
  • I now I teach others how to use dictation software.

Speaker Bios:

Darren Gabbert

Darren Gabbert has a BS in Computer Science and is a Sr. Business Operations Associate for the University of Missouri-Columbia’s Adaptive Computing Technology Center. He has provided adaptive technology services on the MU campus for over 30 years. Mr. Gabbert has served as co-PI on projects funded by the Department of Education, National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Health. He also collaborates with the College of Engineering to conduct research in robotic assistive technology. Mr. Gabbert has an advanced form of spinal muscular atrophy and has continued to be productive using single-switch scanning for the past 14 years.

Robert Beach

Robert has been the Assistive Technology Specialist at KCKCC since January 1994. He is a member of AHEAD and serves as the president of KAN-AHEAD. He is a member of ATHEN (Access Technologists Higher Education Network) and has served on the ATHEN executive board. He has also served on the Advisory Council for the Assistive Technology for Kansans Project for many years.

Robert has presented at several conferences including KAN-AHEAD/Regional AHEAD, National AHEAD, Accessing Higher Ground and others. In addition, he has given many presentations for various organizations on the topics of assistive technology, accessible documents, and disabilities in higher education.

Wink Harner

Wink Harner - Has been an active member of ATHEN for a number of years and is currently serving on the Executive Board as Member-At-Large. Wink was recently invited as the keynote speaker for the 2019 Texas AHEAD conference. She is the former director of disability services at Mesa Community College in Arizona, the Adaptive Technology Specialist for the DR office at Southern Oregon University, and is currently doing freelance adaptive technology consulting and highly specialized alternative text conversions in math, sciences and foreign languages. She has been a professor of multiple languages for more than 25 years and since August 2016, she has been teaching the assistive technology in higher education core courses for CUNY's Masters in Disability Studies Program.