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Staff Profile: Penny D. Matthews

COO, Marketing Director, and Project Manager: Penelope D. Matthews (formerly Ellis) is a highly experienced assistive technology specialist, project director, and manager who has worked with ASI for more than twenty years. She served as co-principal investigator for the ADLS On-the-Web project (DepEd), project director for the Single-Switch Access to Science Software (SSASS) curriculum development project (NSF), and co-author of a series of SSASS curriculum modules for elementary science teachers. She also was project manager for the WinSCAN and SS-ACCESS advanced single-switch interfaces for PC computers. In addition, Ms. Matthews serves as marketing director and coordinator of field services for ASI. In these roles, she has worked closely with manufacturers, distributors, schools and resource centers, conference coordinators, and education and health professionals throughout the country. Ms. Matthews holds a Bachelors Degree (1991) in special education from the University of Tennessee (UT) and has completed most of the requirements for a Masters Degree in early childhood/special education with emphasis on AT.

Ms. Matthews was employed with Blazie Engineering, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, from 1994-95. Blazie is a nationally and internationally recognized pioneer and leader in the field of vision technology. Its Braille Lite and Braille ‘n Speak products are key note-taking tools used by a majority of the blind community and its product line overall is universally accepted as having revolutionized the AT industry for the blind. Ms. Matthews was responsible for a diverse range of operational (including staffing and staff training), product development, production, distribution, and customer relations management and administrative functions as a junior level managerial/administrative executive. Ms. Matthews worked in both the domestic and international segments of Blazie‘s business in these roles.

Ms. Matthews brings over 28 years of experience in working with adults and children with severe physical disabilities and with senior citizens, their families and care-givers. She also brings a national reputation as an expert in computer access technology for people with disabilities. She has worked closely with hundreds of educators, therapists, and rehabilitation professionals throughout the country in areas of communication and computer training; environmental control system design; and educational program modifications for infants and toddlers, children, and adults with congenital or acquired disabilities. She is a frequent presenter/lecturer for national and state AT conferences and conventions. Her extensive industry and community network covers all areas of the disability field.

Prior to Blazie Engineering and ASI, Ms. Matthews was a special education and system-wide resource teacher for the Maryville, Tennessee, public schools. She later joined the East Tennessee Technology Access Center in Knoxville as an assistive technology specialist, coordinator of educational programs, and early-childhood specialist. As such, she helped schools implement programs for children with physical disabilities; consulted with UT about the development of undergraduate and graduate courses in special education and assistive technology; assisted the state in establishing assistive technology support groups; and developed for the disabled children of east Tennessee various camps, open labs, a toy-lending library, and an assistive technology intervention service system.

In addition, she helped UT‘s Therapeutic Recreation Department train its staff, implement adaptive computer labs for campers, and improve communication and camper access. As a volunteer, Ms. Matthews has contributed hundreds of hours to special education classes, respite programs, the Special Olympics, the Association of Retarded Citizens, United Cerebral Palsy, and home schooling programs throughout Tennessee and Kentucky.

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