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Past Speakers

Photo of Michael Chorost
2012 - Michael Chorost, Ph.D.

Michael Chorost is the author of two books, Rebuilt: How Becoming Part Computer Made Me More Human (2005), a memoir of getting a cochlear implant, and World Wide Mind: The Coming Integration of Humans and Machines (2011), an examination of what technology can know and transmit about the conscious experience of the brain. His work concerns questions such as, “What are computers doing to our bodies, our friendships, and our working lives? How do we live whole and full lives in a world saturated with technology?” He has also written about emerging technologies for Wired, The Washington Post, Technology Review, and PBS. Born with severe-to-profound hearing losses in 1964 due to an epidemic of rubella, he began wearing hearing aids at 3½ and switched to cochlear implants in 2001 when he lost the rest of his hearing (the cause is still unknown.) He got his B.A. at Brown University and his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin. He has given over 110 lectures at universities and corporations about humanity’s future in a technological age. He lives with his wife and their three cats in Washington, D.C., where he writes as both an author and a freelancer.

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Photo of Laura C. Stevenson
2011 - Laura C. Stevenson, Ph.D.

Laura C. Stevenson was trained as an historian, but upon going deaf in her mid thirties, she moved back to her family’s summer house in Vermont and became a novelist.  Her first two novels for young adults, Happily After All and the Island and the Ring, were both short-listed for Vermont’s Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award and awards from other states.Her next two young adult novels, both published in England, concerned disabilities: All The King’s Horses is about Alzheimer’s Disease, and A Castle in the Window is about dyslexia.  Her most recent novel, Return in Kind, is set in the fictitious town of Draper, Vermont, and reflects upon the changes in Vermont landscape and residents from 1929 to 1971. Reviewed as “a highly intelligent, moving, and humane novel,” the book is a study of loss – of hearing, of love, of a way of life. Stevenson is retiring from Marlboro College, where she has taught Writing and Humanities since 1986.

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Photo of Jane Kelleher Fernandes
2011 - Jane K. Fernandes, Ph.D.

Jane Kelleher Fernandes joined UNC Asheville as Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs in July 2008. As an academic leader and educator of national prominence, her life's work—creating inclusive academic excellence in education at all levels—has taken her from Hawaii to the Atlantic seaboard. She earned a Master's degree and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Iowa. Her undergraduate degree is in French and Comparative Literature from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. Her scholarship and service have been dedicated to fostering bilingual American Sign Language-English literacy in all deaf students, promoting interdisciplinary teaching and learning practices, and advocating for racial justice. She fosters the development of inclusive schools of racial justice where every student, regardless of circumstances, is welcome and educated respectfully to the maximum positive outcome. In addition to her position as Provost, Dr. Fernandes is a tenured professor of education at UNC Asheville and serves as a Senior Fellow with the Johnnetta B. Cole Global Diversity & Inclusion Institute, founded at Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.

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Photo of Tom Humphries
2010 - Tom Humphries, Ph.D.

Tom Humphries is an Associate Professor in Education Studies and the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego. He is Associate Director of Education Studies. One strand of his current work focuses on how “talking culture” among Deaf people in recent history informs our understanding of cultural processes and how meaning circulates. In addition, he has developed an experimental ASL-English Bilingual Education training curriculum which trains teachers to work with deaf children using an entirely new curriculum construct: the application of bilingual teaching practices to classrooms of deaf children. Dr. Humphries has published two widely used ASL textbooks, Learning American Sign Language (Allyn & Bacon, 2004) and A Basic Course in American Sign Language (TJ Publishers, 1980). He is co-author (with Carol Padden) of Deaf in America: Voices from a Culture (1988) and Inside Deaf Culture (2006), both from Harvard University Press.

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Photo of Donald L. Ballantyne
1981 - Donald L. Ballantyne

Donald Ballantyne, Ph.D., was born in China in 1922 and became deaf shortly after birth due to medical complications. After graduating from Princeton University in 1945, Ballantyne wished to continue his education and enrolled as a graduate student at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. During this time Ballantyne worked as a laboratory assistant in chemistry at Gallaudet College. He went on to receive his master's degree from Gallaudet in 1948 and his doctorate in 1952. Ballantyne joined the New York Medical Center in 1954, where he was a professor of Experimental Surgery and the Director of Microsurgical Research and Training Laboratories in the Institute of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery. As the first presenter of the Edmund Lyon Memorial Lecture series, Ballantyne presented "The Young Deaf Professional at Work: The Start of the Career."

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Photo of Kenneth H. Levinson
1982 - Kenneth H. Levinson

After Kenneth "Ken" Levinson lost his hearing from spinal meningitis at age one and a half, he began auditory training and was mainstreamed in public school beginning at age four. Levinson graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor's degree in accounting followed by an MBA from Columbia University. Levinson's first position was with Price Waterhouse in their New York office. Later Levinson went to work for Northrop Corporation in Los Angeles in an executive-level position as the manager of the Corporate Audit Department. In addition to his business activity, Levinson also served on the boards of directors of the Alexander Graham Bell Association, the Oral Education Center, and the Oralingua School. Ken Levinson's 1982 Lyon Memorial lecture was entitled "Job Mobility for the Deaf: The Next Challenge in Mainstreaming."

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Photo of Philip Bravin
1983 - Philip W. Bravin

Philip "Phil" Bravin, as a prelingually deaf child, was enrolled in schools for the deaf from primary school through high school. Having succeeded at the New York School for the Deaf in White Plains, Bravin went on to Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C. He graduated in 1966 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and science. In 1983, Bravin was an advisory systems engineer with IBM, assigned to the National Accounts Division. His primary responsibilities were to provide marketing and technical support to customers with PCs in the Wall Street area. Bravin also worked as a job placement specialist for the Ohlone Community College in Fremont, California, specifically marketing the employment abilities of deaf-blind adults. Bravin's 1983 Edmund Lyon presentation was titled "Successful Job Performance-Contributing Factors."

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Photo of Farid Bozorgi
1990 - Farid Bozorgi

Born in Iran in 1947, Farid Bozorgi contracted polio as a child, which left him deaf. With limited educational options after elementary school, he practiced his artistic skills by drawing from magazines. His artistic abilities impressed Iranian Princess Shams, who gifted Bozorgi a plane ticket to the United States and money to continue his education. Bozorgi enrolled in the Detroit School for the Deaf and learned ASL. Later he attended NTID, where he studied communication design. After graduating from RIT in 1976, Bozorgi gained employment as a Senior Commercial Artist at Lockheed Aeronautical Systems. He died in California in December 1990, soon after his Lyon lecture at NTID.

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Photo of Raymond Conrad
1995 - Raymond Conrad

Raymond "Ray" Conrad earned a bachelor's degree from RIT in business administration in 1981. He went on to the University of Maryland, where he completed graduate studies in Management Information Systems and then received an MBA degree. In 1995, when Conrad was invited to present for the Edmund Lyon Memorial Lectureship series, he was an office technology consultant for Hewlett-Packard. Conrad was a chairperson of Hewlett-Packard's deaf and hard-of-hearing employee network and is a strong advocate for barrier-free work environments.

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Photo of Jelica Nuccio
1997 - Jelica Bruer Nuccio

Born in Croatia, Jelica Nuccio moved to Alabama as a child. There, her parents enrolled her in the Alabama School for the Deaf. Nuccio's parents disliked having their daughter communicate in ASL, a language they did not understand, so they sent her to the St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis for oral training and later to a mainstream high school. Following high school, Nuccio went on to RIT, where she received her bachelor's degree in biology, and then to Emory University, where she earned a master's degree in behavioral services and health education. At the time of her Lyon lecture, Nuccio was a cryogenic technologist at the Emory Genetic Laboratory as well as a project officer for the Centers of Disease Control. Her Lyon lecture was titled "Breaking Barriers: Trailblazing in the Scientific Field."

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