Shawn Sweet Piantoni - University of Northern Colorado

Shawn Sweet Barnard - University of Northern Colorado

Research Interests: Leadership Development in the fields of Vision Impairment and Deaf-blindness; Special Education Policy; Systems Change; Program Development and Evaluation

Greetings! My name is Shawn Sweet Barnard. I am a member of a community of practice consisting of adults and children who are deaf-blind, their families, and an array of service providers such as State Deaf-Blind Project Directors, Coordinators and  Deaf-Blind Educational Consultants, Teachers and Itinerants of the Visually Impaired, Teachers and Itinerants of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing, Family Specialists, etc. As members of this community, we are all working together toward the common goal of  improving the services and the quality of life for children, youth and adults with dual sensory impairments.

For the past five years, my role in this community has been as a Technical Assistance Specialist for the National Technical  Assistance Consortium for Children and Young Adults who are Deaf-Blind (NTAC). NTAC is a federal grant housed at Western  Oregon University’s Teaching Research Institute. My work with NTAC provides me the opportunity to work among the diverse  membership of our community. My role is multifaceted and I participate in leadership activities at the national, regional, state,  local and personal levels. These activities include planning and facilitating national and regional conferences and collaborative  activities, building state-wide systems and expertise, and designing evaluation procedures that demonstrate that we are positively  impacting the children we serve. More specifically, I have gained skills around facilitation, creative problem-solving, research,  needs assessment, developing and implementing competency-based training and curriculum, and evaluation. I love what I do and  I am ready to explore even greater ways that I might contribute to the field and community that I hold so dear to my heart.  

Prior to my experience with NTAC, I performed many different, but related roles. Soon after receiving my BS and BA in Signed  Language Interpreting and Psychology, I worked as a Job Coach, Independent Living Teacher, and Interpreter for adults who are  deaf-blind through the New Mexico Commission for the Blind. My educational path brought me to Oregon to complete a MS in  Rehabilitation Counseling for the Deaf with an emphasis in Mental Health Counseling. Since my arrival in Oregon, I have worked  and participated in many activities in the fields of Deafness, Vision Impairment and Deaf-Blindness.

My favorite role has been as co-leader of the Student Work Experience Program (SWEP) through the Oregon Commission for the  Blind. Working with young adults and assisting them to reach their fullest potential teaches a great deal about life, including the  blessings and barriers our culture throws in the path of individuals who have disabilities. I have continued to remain in touch with  these students as they have started their college careers. It is through them, the children, and the families that I interact with that I  am reminded of my commitment to this field and why the areas of research, public policy, advocacy, administration, and higher  education are so important to the field of Special Education.

I am thrilled by the opportunity to expand my educational and professional skills in order to provide greater opportunities for  individuals with Vision Impairments, Dual Sensory Impairments, and other complex needs.