Winter Quarter 2021

Perspectives in Assistive Technology


David L. Jaffe, MS
Online via Zoom
Tuesdays & Thursdays from 4:30pm to 5:50pm PT

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Tuesday, January 26th

Perspectives of Stanford Students with a Disability
Sylvia Colt-Lacayo, Gene Sung-Ho Kim, Tilly Kennedy Griffiths, Austin Gregory Brotman, and Abby Tamara

photo of Sylvia  photo of Gene  photo of Tilly  photo of Austin  photo of Abby

Abstract: In this panel discussion, several Stanford students with disabilities will discuss how their disabilities have impacted their lives, the challenges they have faced, their academic goals, and the assistive technology they employ to be successful students.

Confirmed Panelists for 2021:

photo of Sylvia
Sylvia Colt-Lacayo
Sylvia Colt-Lacayo is a Sophomore at Stanford Univerity. While she is currently undeclared, she is interested in studying political science or international relations. Sylvia has been making films for the past five years, most of which discuss various social justice topics and her own disability. She wants to involve art in her future studies. Sylvia is passionate about advocacy and did lots of work this summer bringing awareness to the issue revolving around medical care that many physically disabled people face. This Los Angeles Times article - She got a full scholarship to Stanford. But can she afford the care she needs to go? - was published about her journey.
photo of Gene
Gene Sung-Ho Kim
Gene Kim is a Sophomore exploring Symbolic Systems, Creative Writing, and Mechanical Engineering as potential areas of study. Due to a genetic retinal detachment condition, he gradually lost his sight while growing up, and became completely blind during his sophomore year of high school. Although challenging at times, alternative approaches to engaging with the world has enabled him to serve as a summer camp counselor, learn how to speed-solve Rubik's cubes, compete in the National Japan Bowl competition, and pursue his other academic and personal interests. Currently, he serves as secretary for the California Association of Blind Students (affiliated with the National Federation of the Blind of California), which is an activism and support community. For the future, he is interested in helping pioneer new assistive technologies to increase the scope and quality of accessible living for the impaired.
photo of Austin
Tilly Kennedy Griffiths
Tilly Griffiths is an international student from the United Kingdom and is a junior studying Political Science and Communication. Shortly following her first birthday, Tilly was diagnosed with a neuromuscular condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (Type II), meaning she is a full-time power wheelchair user and relies on physical support with all aspects of daily life. However, since the age of 12 she aspired to cross the Atlantic and attend university in California, and her participation in the Sutton Trust US Programme for low-income, high-achieving students brought her to Stanford. She is a passionate advocate for people with disabilities, so far raising in excess of $7 million to ensure that young people can access the best wheelchairs to help them achieve their goals, and on campus she serves as the ASSU Co-Director of Disability Advocacy.
photo of Austin
Austin Gregory Brotman
Austin Brotman is a Senior studying Symbolic Systems. After a diving accident during the summer before his sophomore year of high school fractured his C6 vertebra and left him paralyzed from the chest down, he found direction in his education and learned to use assistive technology to make up for the limitations imposed by his disability. Hoping to ease the financial burden of these technologies for others hoping to pursue further education, Austin founded the Spinal Cord Injury Scholars’ Fund in conjunction with Craig Hospital in Denver, to provide education related assistive technology to students following a spinal cord injury. Looking forward, he is interested in exploring the ways the discipline of computer science can improve the lives of those with limited mobility.
photo of Abby
Abby Tamara
Abby Tamara is an artist, a retired art teacher (grades K-College), a clinical social worker, and a computer graphic designer. She is an individual with multiple disabilities: a mobility challenge, a bipolar disorder, and a visual impairment. She is passionate about making a difference and advocating for individual rights. She has been a chair of the Consumer Advisory Council and formerly represented consumers on the Board of Directors of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) in Santa Clara County and has volunteered in their Connection Recovery Support Group and the Peer PAL Program. She has also volunteered for the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, has been on the Board of Directors of the Silicon Valley Independent Living Center (SVILC), has successfully been involved in litigation to preserve the rights of service dog recipients when they are hospitalized, and has presented Poster Sessions and spoken at conferences including NAMI's National Convention, California ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) 2015 Conference celebrating 25 years and the California Council of the Blind's Annual Convention. Abby has mentored elementary school students with art lessons, and partnered with high school students in programs for Project Invent and Design the Future. She is currently updating a therapeutic board game she made for inpatient psychiatric units. Abby has a successor service dog, Nathan, from Canine Partners for Life (CPL) in Cochranville, PA and has served on their Advisory Council.

Panelists from 2020:

photo of Ben
Benjamin S. Woodford
Benjamin S. Woodford is a doctoral candidate in the GSE. Having lived for almost 17 years with a T4 complete spinal chord injury, Ben will share a bit of that journey with the class. Research interests currently center around understanding cultural biases towards mathematics learning. Previously a high school math teacher, before that a commercial contractor. Also, he hosts Modern Education, a show on 90.1 KZSU Stanford which addresses learning in the modern age.
Lecture Material:
Pre-Lecture Slides - 908 Kb pdf file
Social Model Animation video (1:26)
Disabled at Stanford - 1982
Office of Accessible Education Links:
Office of Accessible Education Video: Welcome to Stanford University
Guide to the Office of Accessible Education
Office of Accessible Education helps students with disabilities realize their full potential
Other Links:
2012 Stanford Daily article - Panel reflects on life at Stanford with a Disability
2014 Stanford Daily article - An Overlooked Minority by Aubrie Lee
Power2ACT seeks community center for students with disabilities by Edan Armas
Brickelle Bro finds her niche at Stanford by Kit Ramgopal
The fight for disability community at Stanford: Reflections and aspirations by Tilly Griffiths

Updated 02/15/2021

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