My name is Sam Vranizan. I am 32 years old. I have been using Assistive Technology since I was a child. Early on, I had some bad teachers who didn’t believe in me. When I was 14, I met a speech therapist who understood me and taught me to use my first speaking device. I still smile when I think about her because she helped me to be able to speak to the general public. That skill has given me new ways to communicate my dreams and ideas. I think you should know this about my story, because I want you to know how important your role can be in just ONE person’s life. It made such a difference in my life, that I have tried to be an advocate for other Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) users. I have done a lot of work in the community to help other AAC users. I currently mentor a young AAC user who has Cerebral Palsy. He reminds me of myself. I admire his perseverance to constantly improve his communication skills. I know how much it has helped me to be around fellow AAC users. Because of this experience, I believe it is important to start modeling communication when kids are babies. We do this for neurotypical babies during their most formative period. Neurodivergent babies deserve the same.
I like to stay busy doing work in the community. I have been an active volunteer while looking for paid employment. My volunteer work has included volunteering for the Oregon Zoo, Shriners Hospital for children and L’Arche Portland. I consider myself a diligent advocate for people who experience injustice. Some of my recent community work includes: Being a member of an Advisory Counsel at the Portland State University Universal design Lab where we are developing projects to assist and empower people who are AAC users. I have also been on the leadership council for the Bridging Communities Through Alternative Communication group known as BCTAC, which is an AAC users group in California. For the past 11 years, I have served as an assistant wrestling coach with a local high school. I am very interested in doing work that helps people, especially children and people with disabilities.Sam’s Podcasts