Annual Fall Conference 

Friday, October 20, 2023
7:30am ~ 3:30pm
Crest Hollow Country Club | Woodbury, NY


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The Power of Language and Literacy Addressing All Learners

Presenter: MariBeth Plankers, M.S., CCC-SLP, ATP

MariBeth Plankers is a practicing Speech Language Pathologist, and Assistive Technology Professional. She has practiced in the public and private school sector, as Director of a Regional Assistive Technology Center at Minnesota State University (MSUM), and an assistive technology consultant from pediatric to geriatric populations. Her areas of communication services include augmentative alternative communication, autism spectrum disorder, reading and     written language, Universal Design for Learning and Assistive Technology. MariBeth is a National Presenter for the Bureau of Education and Research.


Perspectives in Audiology: Amplification, Cognition and Audition

Presenter: Douglas L. Beck, Au.D., F-AAA, CCC-A

Dr. Beck began his career at the House Ear Institute (L.A., Ca) in cochlear implant research and intraoperative cranial nerve monitoring. In 1988, he became Director of Audiology at Saint Louis University. In 1996 he cofounded a dispensing practice in St Louis. In 1999, he became President and Editor-In-Chief of, and After joining Oticon in 2005, from 2008 through 2015 he also served as Web Content Editor for the AAA. In 2016 he also became Senior Editor for Clinical Research at and Adjunct Clinical Professor of Communication Disorders & Sciences at the State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNYAB). After 17 years with Oticon, he retired in 2022 as Vice President of Academic Sciences. Dr. Beck is among the most prolific authors in audiology with more than 218 publications. In April of 2022 he joined Cognivue Inc. as VP of Clinical Sciences.


Manual Therapy in the SLP Domain

Presenter: Walt Fritz, PT

US-based physical therapist Walt Fritz teaches a unique interpretation of manual therapy to speech-language pathologists, voice professionals, and other  related communities. His gentle, non-manipulative, and interactive approach advances views of causation and impact from historical tissue-specific models into a multifactorial narrative, leaning heavily on biopsychosocial influences. His principles apply to a broad spectrum of intervention models using a model of evaluation and intervention that encourages equality between patient and clinician, utilizing shared decision-making rather than the biomedical clinician-as-expert approach. Unlike traditional laryngeal and soft tissue manipulation, Walt offers the clinician and patient a more subtle approach that gives the receiver more time to assess its influence and relevance. This approach is often better tolerated than aggressive, manipulative forms of treatment and aligns well with newer research findings, allowing the patient to frame the intervention from their preferences and values. Seeing the utility of manual therapy not as a standalone treatment but as an integral part of clinicians’ more extensive work, Walt assimilates his approach into a wide range of treatment protocols. His work is equally appropriate for dysphagia, dysphonia, voice performance limitations, oral motor dysfunction, tongue-related concerns, breathing difficulties, and related disorders. Walt presents his live, in-person workshops internationally through his Foundations in Manual Therapy Seminars. His book is scheduled for release in March 2023 titled “Manual Therapy in Voice and Swallowing:  A Person-Centered Approach,” and maintains a physical therapy practice in Upstate, NY, USA.


Culturally Responsive Clinical Practices on Long Island and in New York State

Presenter:  Ana Santos, M.A., CCC-SLP, TSSLD-BE

Ana Santos is a licensed Bilingual Speech and Language Pathologist born in Colombia. Having acquired a second language upon moving to NY, she began developing an interest in the development of bilingual children. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Speech and Language Pathology from St. John’s University and furthered her education by receiving a bilingual extension from Teacher’s College at Columbia University and a Cultural and          Linguistic Diversity Certification. She was a member of the New York League for Early Learning Bilingual Task Force where she had the honor of working with educational staff experienced in Bilingualism Development and Bilingual Education Law throughout New York State. She currently serves as a member of the New York State Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Inc (NYSSLHA) Ad Hoc Diversity and Inclusionary Practices Committee and the LISHA Diversity Committee. She works with several Long Island School Districts and Clinical Staff to guide in the development and implementation of appropriate policies and educational curricula, to better serve culturally and linguistically diverse students. She has mastered a specialized focus on bilingual and multilingual students in need of academic interventions, developing a best practice framework for their specialized treatment and assessment, to aid in the reduction of the disproportionate representation of this group in special education.


KEYNOTE - Cultivate Kindness: How Small Acts of Compassion Can Transform Your Life and the World Around You

KEYNOTE:  Rich Specht

Rich Specht is a father of four, husband, former science teacher, and co-founder of the ReesSpecht Life Foundation. The foundation is named in honor of Rich’s son, Rees, who passed away tragically in 2012 at the age of 22 months. In the aftermath of Rees’s death, Rich and his family were overwhelmed by their community’s kindness and compassion, and they founded the ReesSpecht Life Foundation to pay it forward. The foundation’s mission is to promote kindness and compassion through various initiatives, including the distribution of “ReesSpecht Life” cards, which encourage recipients to perform acts of kindness in Rees’s memory. The foundation has also established a water safety program called “ReesSpecht the Water” to teach children and their caregivers the essentials of how to be safe in and around the water. In addition, Rich is also a public speaker who shares his family’s story and the importance of kindness and compassion. He has given talks at schools, businesses, and community events and has been featured in various media outlets, including The Today Show, Fox and Friends, and Good Day NY.


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