Staff of the Office of Accessibility

Jessica DeFago, M.A.

Jessica DeFago is the Director of the Office of Accessibility. Jessica's area of specialty is working with students with learning disabilities, ADHD, and students with pervasive developmental disorders. An alumnus of The University of Akron, Jessica has a Master’s Degree in Higher Education Administration. Jessica is dedicated to helping students learn how to navigate and succeed in higher education through developing study skills and self-advocacy skills. Jessica also works closely with University students, faculty, staff and area high schools through department outreaches and educational opportunities.

Tess Miller, M.Ed., CRC

Tess is the Associate Director of the Office of Accessibility. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from The Ohio State University and earned her Masters of Education in Rehabilitation Counseling from Kent State University. Tess is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, with strong interests in student advocacy, disability policy research and writing, and helping others. She is dedicated to both supporting students in the process of adapting to the post-secondary setting, and assisting them in working towards their higher education goals. Her specialty area is working with students with Chronic Health, Medical, and Physical disabilities.

Heather Rose, M.A.

Heather is a Disability Specialist and Service Coordinator for the Office of Accessibility.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Disorders and her Masters in Speech-Language Pathology, both from the University of Akron.  As a speech-language pathologist, she specialized in working with children and teens with hearing loss.  She has worked in private practice, schools, universities and hospitals.  Heather is excited to use her skills at the adult level, helping college level students fulfill their academic and career aspirations. 

Shawn Bixler, M.Ed.

Shawn Bixler is a Disability Specialist and Service Coordinator for the Office of Accessibility.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts in both Education and Psychology, and her Master of Arts in Counseling from Malone University. She holds a state of Ohio teaching license as well as a reading endorsement and has taught in both K-12 and higher education.  In addition, she worked in the field of vocational rehabilitation for the Veteran’s Administration as well as in private practice.  Shawn looks forward to supporting and guiding students to success in their higher education career.


Natalie Martin

Natalie is the Office of Accessibility’s Coordinator of Accessibility Services. She coordinates several accommodations and works with students experiencing temporary medical conditions. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Hiram College, and is working toward continued education in the field of accessibility services. Natalie is passionate about helping students succeed in their post-secondary goals.  


Leigh Sveda

Leigh is the Adaptive Technology and Service Coordinator for the Office of Accessibility. She graduated from The University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She is responsible for the implementation of alternative media for students with disabilities and the administration and operation of STARS. Leigh also oversees the adaptive technology lab housed in the office. 


Rachael Kosar

Rachael is the Office Manager for the Office of Accessibility. She received her degree in Organizational Supervision from The University of Akron. She is responsible for testing accommodations for students and managing student employees. Rachael really enjoys helping those around her and seeing them achieve their goals.


Kelly Ortiz

Kelly is the Captioning and Service Coordinator for the Office of Accessibility.  She is originally from Florida, and has earned her Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders from The University of Central Florida in Orlando. She is currently working on her Doctoral degree at the Northeastern Ohio Audiology Consortium to become a future Audiologist. In the near future, Kelly aspires to specialize in hearing aids and implantable devices. She enjoys helping be a resource for others in need. In her free time, she likes to hang out with friends, try new restaurants, and go roller-skating!

Student Employees


Celine is an Accessibility Assistant at the Office of Accessibility. Celine is majoring in Psychology and minoring in Child Development. Celine graduated from Akron Early College High School with not only her high school diploma, but with an Associate of Arts degree. Celine has always had a passion for helping others and knew this office would be the best place to begin her journey.


Ethan is Business Data Analytics student at the University of Akron. He is also looking to add a double major in Sport Business. He likes to participate in hobbies such as running, fishing, and hanging out with friends. Ethan enjoys being a helping hand to those who may need it and hopes to better assist student success at The University of Akron. 


Grace is a rising junior here at the university studying Business Data Analytics with a minor in Philosophy Pre-Law. She is a member of the school's swim and dive team and is grateful for all the opportunities and relationships the team has given her.  She aspires to make advocacy a major part of her life and wants to help make the world more accessible for everyone.  


Kyeler is a graphic design major with a minor in emerging technologies. She enjoys drawing a painting in her free time, and has worked at the Office of Accessibility since November of 2022.