Back to Program: April 25 | April 26 | April 27 | Pre-recorded Sessions

Creating Sustainable Global Cross-Disability Communities

Stephanie J. Cork, Paul T. Jaeger, Sara H. Olsen, Ron Padrón, Alex Peterson, & Nedelina Tchangalova

Date: April 26, 2023

Panel: 2:25pm-3:25pm 


The presenters will share insights from founding and running a large international cross-disciplinary, cross-disability virtual conference and accompanying online journal that has built a global network of disabled people, advocates, educators, scholars, government officials, family members, and other allies and accomplices. This talk will share challenges, lessons learned, best practices, and technological solutions that could help to work virtually across different types of disabilities, languages, and locations, as well as detailing issues such as advertising, registration, real-time participation, and software selection for events with many disabled participants.

Presentation slides: PPT | PDF

About the Speakers

Stephanie J. Cork

Stephanie J. Cork (she/they) is “notable alumni” of the University of Maryland, College Park and is a Manager of the Student Accessibility Services at Ontario Tech University. An intrepid and outdoorsy Canadian with an international, interdisciplinary background. Her work complements her experiences and expertise in qualitative research, public health, community-based advocacy, and years of teaching. Stephanie is a proud co-conspirator with many across the disability community. Stephanie co-founded the Disability Summit with Dr. Paul T. Jaeger.

Paul T. Jaeger

Paul T. Jaeger is a Professor at the College of Information Studies, and Director of the Information Policy and Access Center (iPAC) at the University of Maryland, College Park. A lifelong member of the disability community, Paul has spent much of his career writing and teaching about the ways in which laws and policies shape the experiences of disabled people, as well as advocating for improvements to those laws and policies. Paul is an unshakable mentor to nontraditional students in higher education and has won multiple awards which only begin to scratch the surface of the support he offers students. Paul is also a renowned scholar in his field of Library and Information Sciences, bringing Critical Disability Studies and Accessibility to the forefront of conversations around information justice. Paul co-founded the Disability Summit with Dr. Stephanie J. Cork. 

A white man wearing a suit and eyeglasses

Sara H. Olsen

Sara H. Olsen is a Disability Rights Program Specialist and a Co-Founder of the Crossroads Adaptive Athletic Alliance. She grew up surrounded by people who dedicated their lives to the service of others despite the challenges or sacrifices involved. The Navy seemed a natural choice to continue the family tradition of service before self. The combination of adventure with the mission to protect personnel and property inherent in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) community drew her in. After nine years of active duty as an EOD Officer, Sara transitioned to the Reserves, where she has risen to the rank of Captain having commanded three units, and served in multiple staffs. In her civilian life, she co-founded Crossroads Adaptive Athletic Alliance, a nonprofit designed to increase inclusive fitness for all people with disabilities. Working with people with disabilities in fitness opened Sara’s eyes to all the social and environmental barriers to participation. As a result, she pursued a Ph.D. in Public Health from the University of Maryland. Sara joined the UMD Disability Summit in 2018.

Ron Padrón

Ron Padrón is the Director of Undergraduate Operations at the College of Information Studies, Co-Chair of the President’s Commission on LGBTQ+ Issues, Facilitator of the Words of Engagement Intergroup Dialogue Program at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion – all positions being held at the University of Maryland, College Park. Ron Padrón is a transplant to Maryland from the sweltering swamps of South Florida. He began working in higher education as an academic advisor serving at-risk student populations and, in his current role, centers justice, equity, diversity, inclusion (JEDI), and accessibility more broadly: from course and curriculum development to student services and shared governance. He has previously presented on advocacy in student services and diversity work in higher education, and also serves as a facilitator for social justice education programs on the UMD campus. Ron is an unwavering advocate for those with disabilities and has been a vocal supporter of disability justice and queer history in all facets of his work and life. Ron joined the UMD Summit team in 2020.

Alex Peterson

Alex Peterson (she/her) is a former Speech-Language Pathologist, and a current student of Turing School of Software Engineering and Design. She received her BA in communicative sciences and disorders from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her MA in speech-language pathology from the University of Maryland, College Park. She completed her acute care SLP CFY fellowship at Ascension St. John Hospital in Detroit, MI. Alex is planning to use her background in speech language pathology and healthcare as she pursues a career in digital accessibility. She is a committed disability advocate, and passionate about equity in healthcare. Alex worked as a Graduate Assistant for PCDI during her time at UMD, and she joined the UMD Disability Summit Committee in 2020. 

A white woman with brown hair pulled back and bangs, smiling at the camera. She wears a white turtleneck.

Nedelina Tchangalova

Nedelina Tchangalova is a Public Health Librarian at the STEM Library and Co-Chair of the President’s Commission on Disability Issues at the University of Maryland, College Park. Nedelina is passionate about teaching students life-long searching skills. A strong advocate for open access research, she collaborates with faculty on public health-related issues. Her professional work surrounds the IDEA concepts of inclusivity, diversity, equity, and accessibility for all people with different abilities. Originally from Bulgaria, she immigrated to the United States with her family. She loves traveling, being in the parks, and walking in the woods. Nedelina uses her insight into the deep need for inclusive technology to facilitate open and accessible communication for the disability community. She artfully crafts into her work, weaving information, and disability justice together. Nedelina joined the UMD Disability Summit in 2019.