Featured Speakers



Emily Shea Tanis,
Coleman Institute University of Colorado – Boulder

Headshot of Emily Shea Tanis.

Emily Shea Tanis, PhD, is the Associate Director of the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Her research focuses on cognitive accessibility of products and services to improve quality of life for people with cognitive disabilities and their families. Dr. Tanis also serves as the research coordinator for the State of the States in Developmental Disabilities Project of National Significance funded by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, which investigates the determinants of public spending for Intellectual and Developmental Disability Services in the United States. She has published articles and investigated the definition of intellectual disability, the construct of self-determination, the cultural impact of technologies and cognitive accessibility for people with cognitive disabilities, cloud computing, supports for families of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and technology implications for supported and customized employment.


David Chesney
University of Michigan

Headshot of David Chesney

David Chesney earned a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Kettering University (formerly General Motors Institute) in 1984. In addition, he earned a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (1987), Master of Science in Computer Science (1992), and PhD in Computer Science (1995) all from Michigan State University. He worked in the automotive industry for approximately 20 years prior to joining the faculty in the Computer Science Department at the University of Michigan (UM) in 2001.

He has taught many of the courses in the computer science curriculum, but now teaches mostly project-based courses. These project-based courses are at the freshman-level (Gaming for the Greater Good) and also senior-level (Accessible Software Systems Design), and typically focus on a ‘client’ with a specific cognitive or physical disability as identified by clinicians at UM’s affiliated children’s hospital (CS Mott Children’s Hospital). Examples include building an iPad app to fly a drone for a client with cerebral palsy and fine motor skills in only his right two toes. Another example is building computer games using GameMaker for a visually impaired/blind audience. Students learn a unique set of user interface approaches that are highly valuable in industry, while practicing development skills for a non-typical audience.