PDE Annual Conference


  • November 11th, 2016
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Wednesday, March 8

Photo of Haben Girma

How Disability Inclusion Benefits All of Us

People with disabilities represent the largest minority group, numbering one billion individuals worldwide. Reaching a group of this scale creates value for everyone. During this thought-provoking opening keynote, Ms. Girma will convey her thoughts on how prioritizing accessibility benefits organizations by gaining access to a much larger user base, improving the experience for users both with and without disabilities, and igniting further innovation.

Haben Girma is an internationally acclaimed accessibility leader who has earned recognition as a White House “Champion of Change,” Forbes 30 under 30 leader, and BBC Women of Africa Hero. The first Deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, Ms. Girma champions equal access to information for people with disabilities. She offers accessibility and diversity training, consulting, and professional speaking services. Ms. Girma combines her knowledge of law, sociology, and technology to teach clients the benefits of fully accessible products and services. Her insights help to expand our thinking, creating lasting, positive change among people and communities.

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Thursday, March 9

Photo of Jim Knight

It Starts with Us

These are difficult times. It seems almost impossible that people might hold their own beliefs without destroying each other. We crave a more compassionate world, and we long to for a return to an environment of public civility and language that unites rather than divides, yet, everything we see causes us to lose hope. The message to be communicated loudly and clearly in this presentation, however, is that all is not lost. While differences in ideas may appear to tear apart friends, families, coworkers, and community members, we can refuse to let that happen. Embracing simple, profound actions can have transformative consequences. In fact, we can create the decent and civil world all of us want by each of us focusing on the simple things that bring people together—demonstrating empathy, listening, and finding common ground. We are not helpless in the face the heartbreaking brokenness we see around us. This is a call to action. We can create a better world, and it starts with us.
Jim Knight is a research associate at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning and the president of the Instructional Coaching Group. He has presented and consulted in most states, and in eight countries. Mr. Knight also leads the coaching institutes and the Annual Instructional Coaching Conference in Lawrence, Kansas.

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Friday, March 10

Photo of Ron Suskind

Life, Animated
Ron Suskind’s sixth book, Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes and Autism, examines his family’s twenty-year struggle with their youngest son, Owen, who has autism. Having lost his speech at age three, Owen seized upon an interest in the form of animated Disney movies, which helped him make sense of himself and the world. Memorizing these iconic movies enabled Owen to communicate and express himself, prompting his family members to use the Disney dialogue to engage Owen, uncover relationships, and illuminate the complex world. This deeply personal, but universally resonant presentation is an adventure story of the human heart in which Mr. Suskind shares stories of Owen’s unique transformation from quiet solitude to animated communication. The Suskind motto – your passion is your pathway – now guides educators, therapists, and parents in tapping deep potential in us all. Join us as we close the conference with this inspiring life story.
Ron Suskind is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, best-selling author, teacher essayist, and speaker whose impassioned presentations mix monologue with reportage, pathos with humor, and global politics with personal ruminations on subjects as diverse as capitalism, care-giving, and the future of communication.

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