Keynote- I Won't Be Invisible
Speakers: Richard and Tom Ellenson
Inclusion is difficult. Implementing AT is difficult. If these things weren’t, we wouldn’t always be looking for better answers. But better answers often require new questions - and new ways of thinking about goals. During Thomas Ellenson’s long journey toward an inclusive education, he’s faced many challenges and difficulties, and also had many successes. In this talk, he and his father, an active advocate and a creator of innovative AT, will share highlights and achievements during these years, as well as areas which still remain a challenge, and discuss the key insights that have led to success.
Thomas Ellenson is a 24-year-old actor, writer and producer whose relentless and creative spirit expresses itself not only in everyday life, but also in the world of theater. His one man show, It Is What It Is, won First Prize at NYC's One Festival and appeared for a successful five night run at the Flamboyan Theater. He also starred in a stage adaptation of the novel, Out Of My Mind, mounted by the graduate program at City College of New York, appeared in 10 shows with Creative Arts Team (CAT), an inventive student theater group, 4 musical productions with Broadway Dreams, a group of young actors working with Broadway Equity creatives, and appeared in an episode of ABC’s sitcom Speechless. Tom is currently enrolled at NYC’s Baruch College in the theater department. Said Tony Award winning actor, Jefferson Mays, “Tom’s passion for performance, his positive approach, the extraordinary way he lives his life, his wheelchair never confining him, but rather acting as a foundation for his strength and bold flights of imagination, affect everyone with whom he comes into contact.”
has been a leading voice in the disability community for two decades. He decided to leave his career as a successful advertising executive (It’s Not TV. It’s HBO, American Express, Remy Martin, etc.) when his son was born with cerebral palsy, and to instead work on bringing a greater understanding of the importance of both social communication for individuals and to helping create a better narrative for the world of disabilities. In the ensuing twenty years, Richard has created a variety of innovative accessible technologies (including the current AAC app, Talk Suite Pro), served on two NIH Advisory Councils, run a cerebral palsy foundation, produced countless videos seen millions, given keynote addresses to the Academies of Cerebral Palsy on three continents, and received two NIH grants for his work. Tom and Richard’s efforts have been covered many times in local and national news, including being named People of the Year by ABC World News tonight.