Session:  "Learning from the Past to Build the Future"

After a 40+ year career in the disability service sector, one could say Sandy Henry has seen it all, from the initial push of deinstitutionalization to use of technology enabling people to live in their own homes, experiencing true community integration and choice. She’ll share the 40 year history of the industry and how many times its felt like we’ve been looking over the cliff with no path forward, and how each time leaders emerged to usher in a new era of progress.

Sandy Henry spent over 40 years supporting vulnerable individuals to live more independently in the community.  In 2007 she was the primary author of a pilot proposal to demonstrate the use of technology in supporting people with various abilities. That pilot lead to the formation of Sengistix, LLC in 2008, a national remote support technology provider.  Retired in 2016, Sandy still works to educate individuals, families, service providers, state and local social service entities on the use and implementation of technology. 


Session:  "Affordable, Practical Smart Home Technologies"

Smart home technologies are becoming increasingly versatile, accessible and affordable, providing new opportunities for functional independence, safety and social support among people with disabilities. This presentation will address consumer-level tools for environmental control, communication, and cognitive assistance, offering case examples and recommendations for practical applications, based on the presenter’s long-standing research and practice in this field.  At the conclusion of this presentation, attendees will be able to:

Knowledgeably discuss off-the-shelf products for home access and environmental control among people with disabilities;

• Compare and contrast competing smart home platforms;

• Consider affordable, practical strategies for implementing smart home solutions for people with disabilities.


Tony Gentry received his B.A. in history and literature from Harvard College, his M.A. in occupational therapy from New York University and his Ph.D. in instructional technology from the University of Virginia. Over the past decade, Dr. Gentry has conducted multiple research studies, with $2 million in funding from the Department of Defense, National Institutes of Disability Rehabilitation and Research (NIDRR), Commonwealth Neurotrauma Initiative Fund, VCU Community Engagement Fund, and others.  These research efforts have won awards or citations from the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, the Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America (RESNA) and the Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitation Services (DARS), among others.  


Session:  "But What if They Can?"

"But What if They Can?"  is not just about creating opportunities, it's about changing perspectives.  Join me in a conversation that will challenge how you think about "people with disabilities".  We will talk about why words, thoughts, and perceptions have the potential to be bigger barriers than ANY environmental factor. I'll share stories and examples of kids and young adults who are using technology to conquer not only the barriers the world presents but those monstrous barriers of perception. Finally, we will discuss how each of YOU has infinite power to change the world by changing perspective, often by simply posing the question:But what if they can?


Robin Pegg (MEd, COTA/L, ATP) is a RESNA certified Assistive Technology Professional who has dedicated her 20+ year career to promoting the full and equal access of individuals with disabilities. She prides herself on staying on the cutting edge of available tools, strategies and supporting research in the fields of assistive technology, differentiating instruction and Universal Design for Learning. Robin’s dual background in occupational therapy and assistive technology affords her a unique perspective when in pursuit of solutions for access.She holds Bachelor Degree in Administration from Baker College and graduated summa cum laude from Bowling Green State University with a Masters in Special Education - Assistive Technology. Robin has published numerous articles and publications on assistive technology implementation and the fruits of her work were showcased in Chapter 10 of “”From Possibility to Success” by Patrick Schwarz, Ph.D.

Session:  “Can You Hear Me Now?  How My World Has Been Transformed By Technology…”

In this session, people with disabilities and their family members will discuss how technology has positively impacted their lives.  More specifically, each set of speakers will demonstrate the technologies that help them effectively communicate – to, in essence, have a “voice”. 


Bill Henzlik:  William (Bill) Henzlik is a 29 year old young man from North Aurora, Illinois. At age 3 he wrote he could read on his magadoodle. The next device Bill used to communicate was a Light Writer (Augmentative Communication Device). Now He uses an IPAD to communicate. Bill demonstrates his writing ability by writing complete thoughts with clarity.

Bill’s stated goal is to advocate for people with disabilities. Being an example, so people see that a person with a disability has a place in the world is his approach to this goal.  Show people not tell them is his method.  Bill believes in full inclusion with appropriate supports, thus enabling a person to be part of the community.

To this end:

  • Bill has participated in Special Olympics gymnastics, swimming, golf, and track events. He has received over 100 medals and awards for these efforts. He also participates in personal training on a weekly basis.
  • For the last 7 years Bill has volunteered at the North Aurora Public Library, where he shelves books.
  • At the North Aurora Lions Club, Bill is the “Lion Tamer” responsible for the club’s flags, banners and name tags. The Lions Club gives Bill the opportunity to be part of a local community organization and to give back to his local community.
  • Bill is the Co-president of his own MicroBoard (Building Independence with Laughter and Love) and Bill is a member of the Board of Directors of the IAMC (Illinois Association of MicroBoards and Cooperatives).
  • Completion of his GED is a personal goal for Bill.
  • Bill has a keen interest in politics and takes his citizenship seriously, voting in every election since eighteen years of age.

Jennifer Durnas:  Jennifer Durnas is Bill Henzlik's older sister. She works as a nurse when not being mom, wife, sister and daughter. Jen is also co-president of Bill's microboard and a member of S.I.B.S. (Supporting Illinois Brothers and Sisters).  Through the use of technology, Jennifer has seen Bill's personality, sense of humor and dreams for his own life emerge.  She believes that being Bill's sister has taught her about relationships, patience, humility and the dignity of self-determination. 

Joey Rosenbloom:  Joey Rosenbloom is a 30 year old man with autism spectrum disorder.  From the age of 15 Joey was home schooled. He earned a college prep high school diploma and was admitted to Harper College as the first student with autism to attend general education classes with a support person.

Joey writes a monthly column for Positively Naperville that has gained the attention of many people who have quoted his columns in everything from inspirational speeches and church sermons to trainings and even a fashion publication. 

9 years ago Joey created and began assembling “JoePacks” which are designed to provide high school students living below the poverty level additional food items to supplement their food insecure environments. To date Joey has made thousands of JoePacks and continues to distribute them on a biweekly basis.

Joey is a CNN news junkie and a passionate advocate for the rights of those who both literally and figuratively do not have a voice.  Joey has done a series of conferences for Easter Seals and consults in his mother and sister’s practice COPES Special Needs Consulting.

He lives at home with his mother and father and counts the days until his beloved sister visits from her current home in Seoul, Korea where she spends time with her fiancé Nick, a doctor in the air force.

Sharon Rosenbloom:  Sharon Rosenbloom is a speech and language pathologist, autism consultant and author of the book “Souls: Beneath and Beyond Autism”.  She has worked, lived and loved in the world of autism for as many years as Joey has had the diagnosis, developing a program for autism called COPES, which has been both praised and studied by researchers. As both a parent and professional, her unique vantage has made her a popular speaker and trainer, as well as being a featured person on CNN and other news programs devoted to autism awareness.

She continues to devote most of her time to ensuring as many individuals with autism as possible develop an authentic voice. She is the program director of COPES Special Needs Services.

Nate Trainor:  Nate Trainor is an advocate for the acceptance of people with disabilities.  He, although non-verbal, is a powerful “voice” for inclusion.  Nate has experienced firsthand what rejection, exclusion and assumed incompetence fells like.  He volunteers his time to help others understand that everyone has many abilities, communicates and belongs.  He is currently living with two roommates, is employed at the “W” Wellness Center, volunteers for a sixth grade class and presents throughout the country.  Nate is particularly passionate about advocating for those without a “voice” or means to communicate. 

Jean Trainor:  Jean, a Cedar Falls, Iowa native, graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with an Accounting Degree and earned her Certified Public Accountant designation.  Jean joined Veridian Credit Union in April 1982 as Controller and was promoted to Vice President of Finance in June 1984. Jean became CEO/Chief Inclusion Officer of Veridian Credit Union in 1990 and remained in that position until May of 2015, when she recalibrated to begin working with her son, Nate.

Jean currently serves at Inclusion Connection, a not for profit organization with the goal of promoting inclusive communities that live, learn, work and play together.