2019 Accessibility Conference Presenter Bios

Kristina England

Digital Accessibility Coordinator, UMass Office of the President

Kristina England is a member of the UMass Accessibilty Conference committee.  She learned everything she knows about accessibility from research on Google, the Accessibility Coordinators at UMass Amherst and UMass Boston, and by engaging with industry experts through online discussion forums.  In November 2018, she co-founded the Higher Ed Accessibility Taskforce, which brings together higher ed institutions to share and collaborate on manual testing of digital products.  

Kristina has previously presented at the ICT Accessibility Testing Symposium, AccessGA (Georgia’s statewide educational program on accessibility), and Access Higher Ground.  She will co-present on procuring accessible technology at an all-day Nercomp session in the fall.  Kristina received her MA in English from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Deborah Finch

Associate Teaching Professor, Manning School of Business

Deborah Finch is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Manning School of Business at UMass Lowell. Her journey to teaching in higher education included homeschooling her four children until they went to college, and returning to college herself to earn an MBA and an Ed. D. Her active community involvement includes volunteering and serving on local nonprofit boards including the Lowell Association for the Blind. Her interest in accessibility came from her experience with the blind and visually impaired, along with working with students with a wide spectrum of needs that impact their ability to become successful students.  Dr. Finch believes the best way a student can get an education is to take advantage of opportunities in experiential education, service learning, and study abroad experiences. She sees her role as a guide and facilitator, with the hope of helping her students become lifelong learners.

Becky Gibson

Director Accessibility, Open Access Technologies, Inc.

Becky is a recognized leader in Web Accessibility with more than 30 years of diverse experience in corporate and open-source software product development. Her passion is web accessibility advancement and evangelism that impacts products, customer strategies, and industry standards.

She participated in the creation of W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG) and helped to develop and evangelize the Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) specification. Becky is currently a member of the W3C Accessibility Platform Architectures (APA) Working Group and the Personalization Task Force. She creates blog posts, documentation, training materials, and speaks at conferences to further the mission of digital inclusion for all.

Bruce Howell

Accessibility Services Manager, The Carroll Center for the Blind

Bruce Howell joined The Carroll Center for the Blind in July of 2012.  He is a graduate of Colgate University and previously enjoyed a long career in Retail Banking, plus three years in Job Development for persons with disabilities, prior to coming to The Carroll Center.  In his current role Bruce has primary responsibility for business development and project management.  He works with clients to help them to identify and articulate their digital accessibility challenges, and assigns resources to best meet those client needs.  Bruce serves as the primary contact with clients throughout these evaluations or testing projects, where he facilitates all interaction between The Carroll Center team and the client.  Many of these clients have been colleges and universities throughout Massachusetts.  Bruce is also a proficient user of some of the Assistive Technologies which the Accessibility Services team uses to conduct testing and evaluation of websites, learning management systems, mobile applications, enterprise software solutions, and other digital content.

Sarah Horton

Strategy Lead, The Paciello Group

Sarah Horton is interested in exploring ways to improve quality of life through good design. As strategy lead for the The Paciello Group (TPG), she works with companies and product teams to create “born accessible” digital products and services that work well for everyone. She is co-author of A Web for Everyone with Whitney Quesenbery and Web Style Guide with Patrick Lynch.

Trudy Knudsen

Director of Business Development, Open Access Technologies, Inc.

Trudy is an accomplished, results-oriented business development executive with a proven track record of success in the publishing, technology, education and eLearning markets.  Trudy consults with colleges, universities, government agencies, public and private companies to understand document accessibility policies.  Once policies are designed with legal team, the relevant document remediation and transformation process begins.   She is excited to help organizations provide an engaging user experience for blind and low vision customers.

Sofia Leiva

Marketing Programs Manager, 3Play Media

As Marketing Programs Manager at 3Play Media, Sofia Leiva is in charge of creating numerous resources on the importance of video accessibility including blogs, white papers, and webinars. She firmly believes that online accessibility is more important than ever before and is passionate about helping organizations learn about the invaluable benefits it can bring. In her free time, you’ll find Sofia hiking, baking vegan treats, or watching conspiracy documentaries on Netflix.

Colleen Locke

Digital Communications Editor, UMass Boston

Colleen Locke has been the digital communications editor in UMass Boston’s Office of Communications for the last eight years. She aims to incorporate accessible practices whether she is writing a story for the university's homepage, preparing a handout for a new website editor, or posting to UMass Boston’s social media channels. Prior to coming to UMass Boston, Colleen was a television, web, and multimedia producer for 10 years. She has a BS in communications from Syracuse University, where she majored in broadcast journalism and minored in both history and theatre. Together Matt McCubbin and Colleen run web, document, and email accessibility workshops for UMass Boston staff, faculty, and students.

Dave Marra

Senior Systems Engineer and Accessibility Specialist, Apple

As a Senior Systems Engineer and Accessibility Specialist for Apple, Dave Marra has conducted thousands of technology presentations, keynote addresses, and workshops for schools, Mac and PC user groups, businesses, and other professional organizations across the United States and Canada. Dave also leads the Apple Accessibility Advocates group, a worldwide team inside of Apple that advocates for, and presents on, the built-in Apple accessibility features found in every Apple product for vision, hearing, motor skills, learning disabilities, speech, and language support needs.

Matt McCubbin

IT Accessibility Coordinator, UMass Boston

Matt McCubbin serves as the IT accessibility coordinator at UMass Boston and manages the Adaptive Computer Lab on campus. He is a cofounder of A T Guys and BlindBargains.com, and possesses more than 13 years of experience in the assistive technology and accessibility field. Matt serves on several university committees where he promotes accessibility and universal design, including the UMass cross campus accessibility working group. As an avid technology user, Matt is always testing new and exciting technologies and evaluating how best they can improve the lives of people with disabilities. Together Colleen Locke and Matt run web, document, and email accessibility workshops for UMass Boston staff, faculty, and students.

Joshua Pearson

Assistive Technology, UMass Amherst

Joshua Pearson is an Assistive Technology specialist with a B.A. in communications from UMass Amherst.  He has been working to help train clients of the UMass community on various types of AT tools across the disability spectrum, and helps to develop new innovative technological solutions to increase independence in the lives of his clients. 

Linda Sudlesky, M.Ed.

Instructional Designer, UMass Boston

I am an Instructional Designer at UMass Boston with specialties in Web Conferencing, Mobile Learning, and Accessibility. I've been working with the eLearning and Instructional Support Team at UMass Boston since 2011 as a Grad Assistant, and as an Instructional Designer since 2014, working with faculty on the design, development and implementation of their online courses. Before becoming an Instructional Designer, I've worked in a number of Special Education classrooms and community support/advocacy positions over the past 20 years, as both an educator and advocate. As a result, I am very passionate about equity in education for all learners and the inclusive use of technology in education. I have a M.Ed. in Instructional Design from University of Massachusetts Boston, and a BS in Special Education from The Pennsylvania State University.

Paula Thorsland, M.Ed.

Senior Instructional Designer and Accessibility Specialist, UMass Boston

My career in higher education began at UMass Boston in 2010 after 20 years of teaching k-12. In 2012, I accepted a full time Instructional designer position with the eLearning and Instructional Support Team at UMass Boston, where I worked with faculty in the use of educational technologies and course design. I then was promoted to Senior Instructional Designer where I work to educate faculty about building accessible content in their online courses. I also teach an undergraduate course for the education department called Education and Technology. I continue to teach as adjunct, partly because I would miss students, and partly so that I can continuously refine my courses and apply new online technologies.

I have a Master’s degree in Education with an Instructional Design focus from University of Massachusetts Boston, and I have a BA in English from the University of New Hampshire. I am passionate about education, digital literacy, universal design, and equitable access to education and information for all learners. I am especially interested in the accessible design of online learning environments. I am honored to be supporting your exploration of this important topic.