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Equipping Future Leaders on Advocating for Making Life Accessible - 2021 SOAR Conference

About Kevin

Originally founding Tech4Impact as a hobby business while attending graduate school, Kevin ultimately combined his love of technology with rehabilitation counseling to help individuals with disabilities meet their goals while they live, learn, work, and play.

Kevin is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) and his educational background includes a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Milwaukee School of Engineering and a Master's of Science Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Drake University.

Kevin started Tech4Impact in 2013, and he is responsible for providing technology related services such as assessments, implementation, and training to Iowans. He has provided services to clients from the Veterans Administration, Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Iowa Department for the Blind, Iowa Workforce, and individuals who are not receiving services from any agency. He also consults with agencies directly to help with website and content accessibility. Kevin is often quoted as saying "We all start somewhere". He gained many of his first experiences with assistive technology while volunteering and interning at Easterseals Iowa. Coming full circle, Kevin now also works part-time at Easterseals Iowa providing assistive technology services.

Kevin is a passionate advocate of disability rights and has been involved in several advocacy boards:

  • (2017-Present) Disability Rights Iowa (Served as President 2018-2020, Co-Chair of Search Committee 2020-2021)
  • (2019-Present) eAccessibility Advisory Council for Iowa
  • (2015-2019) Iowa Statewide Independent Living Council (Served as Secretary 2018-2019)
  • (2016-2018) Iowa Olmstead Consumer Taskforce (Served as Vice-Chair 2017-2018)

Kevin helps to eliminate stigma by talking about his own experience with a mental health disability:

Contact Kevin through the contact form or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Leadership and Advocacy 

Learning a little bit about our audience today

Audience participation,

What advocacy activities are you either currently or looking to be doing? This could include self-advocacy, boards, political action, public education, and other areas. This list is not exhaustive.

Self-Advocacy as a foundation

  1. Get to know yourself. Which skills are you doing well at and which ones you need to work on?
  2. Learn your rights and responsibilities. Disability Rights Iowa's website
  3. Speak up
  4. Team up

What makes a leader

Youth leadership skills include many of the same foundational areas from self advocacy:

  • Decision-making
  • Goal setting
  • Problem-solving
  • Relationship-building
  • Communicating
  • Listening
  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy

Brainstorm ideas on how to get started

Audience participation,

Making Life Accessible

Technology in general

As we live our lives, Technology has become incredibly integrated into our daily living. Advancements over the last couple of decades in technology profoundly impact individuals with disabilities.

Audience participation,

Assistive technology

Assistive technology (AT) in short is any device, strategy, or system – however high or low tech – which allows a person with a disability to perform a task they are unable to perform. Examples include mobile devices, wheelchairs, walkers, braces, software, power lifts, pencil holders, eye-gaze and head trackers, smart home technology, and much more.

Many of the items shared could be considered AT.

Resources Available

Meeting Accessibility - The Basics

1. When you send out the invitation or notice, include a welcome message to let invitees know they can contact the planner regarding accommodations. Inlcude language about refraining from wearing strong fragrances.
2. Check Venue in Advance

Visibility – Consider those with impaired sight

  • Clear signage (identifying location and directions); well-lit meeting space and adjacent areas; projection screen visible from all seating (if using projection).
  • Acoustics – Consider those with hearing impairment
  • Public address (PA) system; roving microphone; limit unnecessary background music; seating available near presenter for lip reading; availability of assistive listening devices. Is there well-lit space for an interpreter if needed?

Mobility – Consider those who may use a wheelchair or mobilize in alternative ways

  • Accessible parking near venue; proximity to bus stop; ramp and/or elevator access; accessible bathrooms; barrier-free pathways; wide doorways and aisles to accommodate wheelchairs/scooters; no loose cables across walking areas.
Technology – Consider those who may need to use adaptive devices

  • Electrical outlets in accessible seating areas to accommodate devices, laptops, etc.; extra space or work surface
  • Zoom provides accessibility options. Please visit the Zoom website for assistance in making this option more accessible. 

Service Animals – Consider access and space for service dogs
Comfortable space for service animals to rest during event; accessible toileting and watering facilities nearby.


Room Arrangement – reminder to consider the mobility items I just mentioned

Presenter Checklist

  • If possible, submit materials in advance so that they can be forwarded to individuals who may not be able to view screens or flip charts;
  • verbally describe visual materials (e.g., slides, charts, etc.);
  • have printed copies available (in larger font);
  • avoid using small print on presentations that can't be seen from a distance;
  • ensure speakers (including those asking questions) always use a microphone;
  • activate captions on any video used in the presentation;
  • encourage hourly breaks; and
  • organize breakout group activities to maximize distance between groups (e.g. each group going to a corner of the room or side rooms).

If you need help with document and website accessibility, please contact Easterseals Iowa. We offer a free introductory course and can provide fee for service consulting.

Requesting Accommodations

You have a right to request a Reasonable Accommodation, even if you don't know what you need. It's best to do so in writing and include the following:

  • Identify yourself as a person with a disability
  • State that you are requesting accommodations under the ADA
  • Identify your specific problematic job tasks
  • Identify your accommodation ideas
  • Request your employer's accommodation ideas
  • Refer to attached medical documentation if appropriate*
  • Ask that your employer respond to your request in a reasonable amount of time

Discussion on Realities/Limitations/Work around solutionsEnter heading here...

Not one device or accommodation is the answer for everyone. Even then this may only provide a partial solution. They are certainly some reality and limitations. Often times, work around solutions can be found that minimize these limitations.

Advocacy Journey

Take a moment to think about the past 5 years and your journey that brought you to this conference session today. Now think about today and what your goals are moving forward.

What concrete next steps can you take in the next week or two to move you closer to the goals you thought about. I want you to phrase your steps in terms of SMART Goals. For those who are not familiar with a SMART Goal:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

You can learn more at Mindtools

Here are some examples of next steps. I'm hoping not to take any of yours:

  • From the Self-Advocacy Section, Get to know yourself as I mentioned we talked about Goal setting and attainment. Say I want to work on Goal Setting.
    • I will read the link on SMART Goals by Mindtools by 9/30/2021.
      • Review if it SMART – Regarding attainable article indicates it is about 12 min read.
    • OR if you already know about SMART Goals, I will read or listen to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: 30th Anniversary Edition by 12/31/2021.
      • For anyone in the audience who knows me, I have been fascinated by habits and routines since I read the Family version in 1995. Recently listening to it again reminded me of the impact it has had on my life. This book would go a long way to learning about working with people. Maybe you will also discover why I collect compasses.
      • Review if it SMART – Regarding attainable audible book is about 15 hours. If I were to start today and listen to the book 1 hour per week for the next 15 weeks, I could meet my goal. I am so grateful for Audible books. Although, I enjoy the information from books, I don't particularly like reading the words. For me this is a bit of AT.
    • OR if you are looking to join a board. You may have a SMART Goals of:
      • I will research what boards I am interested in by 10/30/2021
      • I will apply to one of the boards by 11/30/2021 or when the next applications are accepted
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Making Gaming Accessible


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Monday, 27 June 2022

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