Skip to content


Date: 5/19/2022
Time: 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Accessibility is Everybody’s Responsibility!

Held virtually | Harrisburg University of Science and Technology

Description:  Come celebrate the 11th Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) with us.

GAAD events are hosted across the world to spread awareness about digital accessibility and inclusion. Awareness is the first step in a learning journey we all need to take so that everyone has access to digital information and services (email, online shopping and services, videos, social media and more). 

You will learn about:

  • Ways that the commonwealth provides employees with disabilities the tools they need to do their job.
  • How Art-Reach is making Philadelphia the most accessible arts city in the country.
  • Steps you can take to make sure your email, documents and social media posts are accessible to people with disabilities.

CART/human captioning and ASL interpretation will be provided. Please contact to request additional accommodations.

GAAD Schedule of Sessions & Speakers

10:05 am | Welcome

Accommodations: Strategies and Best Practices (PowerPoint)

Speaker:  Ellen Strom, Chief Accessibility Officer

Ellen Storm

Speaker Biography:  Ellen Strom was named the first Chief Accessibility Officer for the commonwealth in January 2020.  In this role, Ellen is focused on ensuring that the state’s digital content is accessible to its citizens and employees alike.  She works with state agencies to define best practices, design, and implement strategies to educate and influence organizational culture, improve procurement processes, and organize communities of practice. Ellen has been in the digital customer experience field for more than 15 years.  For seven years prior to joining the commonwealth, she concentrated on designing and implementing a digital program to improve the web and mobile banking experiences for customers with disabilities.  She is a Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC).

10:05 am | Common ways to reduce barriers

Speaker 1:  Shannon Austin, Workforce Development Board Administrator, with the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board

Shannon Austin

Speaker Biography:  Shannon brings 25+ years of combined experience in human resource management, workforce development and vocational rehabilitation.  Throughout her professional career, she has worked tirelessly to develop and nurture strong collaborations between government agencies, businesses, education institution, community agencies, professional organizations, and partners to bring about true inclusion.  Shannon has significant professional experience in the areas of: Implementing Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Initiatives; recruitment & onboarding; Section 503, ADA & accommodation consultation; EEO/AA Laws & Regulations; disability awareness & etiquette training; and Building business & employer partnerships.  She has championed numerous public-private projects and has always been committed to creating and maintaining effective working relationships to address the needs of individuals with disabilities and minority communities.

Speaker 2:  Martin Kearney, Equal Opportunity Specialist in the Office of Administration, Bureau of Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and Appeals (BEEOPA), Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 

Martin Kearney

Speaker 2 Biography:  Martin Kearney is an Equal Opportunity Specialist in the Office of Administration, Bureau of Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and Appeals (BEEOPA).  In this role, Marty addresses requests for accommodation and provides training on disability-related issues for commonwealth managers and supervisors.  He also reviews appeals of internal discrimination complaints and provides technical assistance and guidance to state agencies on all EEO-related matters.  Marty has been in the civil rights field for nearly two decades.  Prior to joining BEEOPA in 2015, he worked for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission for more than 10 years investigating discrimination complaints, providing training and outreach, and consulting with community organizations on civil rights matters.

10:30 am | Hiram G Andrews Center | Center for Assistive and Rehabilitative Technology (CART) Services

Center for Assistive & Rehabilitative Technology Presentation (PowerPoint)

Speaker 1:  Tammy Pelleschi, CART Program Manager, with introduction by Ellen Strom

Speaker 1 Biography:  Tamra Pelleschi, OTR/L, ATP, is an Occupational Therapist and Certified Assistive Technology Professional.  She has been practicing in the field of Occupational Therapy for 37 years.  Tamra is the Program Manager at the Center for Assistive and Rehabilitative Technology, CART, located at the Hiram G. Andrews Center in Johnstown, Pa.  The CART offers comprehensive Assistive Technology interventions and services to people of all disability types.  In this role, she is responsible for developing and implementing new service delivery models.  Her research has included Tele-rehab as an AT service and delivery model.  Tamra is also on faculty for The University of Pittsburgh.  In her current clinical and academic positions, she works closely with government and third-party organizations to develop funding policies and measures for assessing need and appropriateness of AT interventions.  She is the co-author of several textbook chapters on Assistive Technology.

11:00 am | Art Reach

Art-Reach Presentation (PowerPoint)

Speaker:  Charlie Miller, with introduction by Lea Sheffield

Charlie Miller

Speaker Biography:  Charlie Miller currently works for Art-Reach, a Philadelphia-based non-profit that works to make the arts more accessible to people with disabilities and low-income communities. Charlie has experience in international peacemaking work in Palestine/Israel, Colombia, and the US/Mexico border. He currently serves on the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council, a Governor-appointed role. Charlie was awarded the 2021 Brighter Futures Award for Cultural Arts. Charlie has been lucky enough to have two documentaries made by FreshFly Productions about projects he has conceived and produced. Charlie has served on various non-profit Boards, has consulted on various topics related to social justice programming, and has presented on peacekeeping work in Jordan, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Speaker Biography:  Lea Sheffield is the manager of the Special Populations Unit within the Office of Developmental Programs (ODP).  The Special Populations Unit works to ensure effective communication for all individuals supported by ODP – including those who communicate with sign language, gesturing, other nontraditional modalities, emerging communicators, and those who use behavior to communicate.  The Special Populations Unit offers training, accessibility support, consults directly with teams, and helps folks navigate the complexities of building communication approaches and systems for individuals with developmental disabilities.  This Unit also includes the Deaf Services Coordinator who offers specialized assistance to teams who support individuals with hearing loss.  The Special Populations Unit is small but mighty and works tirelessly to fill system gaps through creative thinking and collaborative efforts across departments. The Unit can be reached at and trainings offered can be found at  

11:30 am | What can you do? 

What You Can Do (PowerPoint)

Speaker:  Ellen Strom

Additional Resources & Links

Home – GAAD (

Global Accessibility Awareness Day Proclamation