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Keynote Presenters

Photo of Cay Holbrook- Woman with blonde hair wearing a black cardigan a nd black and white scarf standing behind a table.

Professor Cay Holbrook

Cay Holbrook began her career as a teacher of students with visual impairments (TVI) during her undergraduate pre-service teacher training program at Florida State University. She continued to teach students in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida while she completed her masters and doctoral degrees also at Florida State University.  Her doctoral dissertation focused on the perceived role of the teacher of students with visual impairments and she has remained interested in questions regarding service delivery and educational supports and curriculum for this population.

Cay's first faculty position was at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. After three years she moved to Little Rock to assume a faculty position at The University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) where she was program coordinator for the TVI program.  She remained at UALR for eight years and, in 1998, moved to Vancouver, British Columbia to join the faculty at The University of British Columbia where she is now.

Along with her dear friend and professional collaborator, Alan Koenig, Cay worked on defining a process to determine learning and literacy media for students with visual impairments through a data-driven collaborative team approach called Learning Media Assessment.  This process resulted in one of twelve textbooks that have been written or edited by Cay and her collaborators.  These textbooks include, two editions of Children with Visual Impairments: A Parents' Guide, two editions of Foundations of Education for Students with Visual Impairments (Volumes 1 and 2),  and support for teachers' learning and using braille, The Braille Enthusiasts' Dictionary (EBAE and UEB versions), and Ashcroft's Programmed Instruction in Braille (EBAE and UEB versions).

Additional professional highlights have been her work with the Jimmy Carter Presidential Center in preparing professionals in China, her collaborations with professionals in Sweden, UK and Australia. In addition, she was co-founder (along with Janie Humphries Blome) of the Getting In Touch with Literacy conference. She has been an active member of professional organizations since joining as an undergraduate student. In 1992 she received the Alfred Allen Award and, in 2002, the Warren C. Bledsoe Award from AER and has been honored to receive the CEC-DVI Distinguished Service Award, the J. Max Wooly Award for Superior Service from the Arkansas Chapter of AER, the Canadian Vision Teacher's Conference Distinguished Service Award, the University of British Columbia Killiam Teaching Award, The Wings of Freedom Award from the American Printing House for the Blind and Florida State University-College of Education distinguished alumni.

Hear from Cay in our podcast.

Photo of John Ravencroft. Middle aged blonde man wearing glasses, a blue shirt and black jacket.

Professor John Ravenscroft

After my first degree in Psychology I became very interested in Cognition, Language and especially Child Language. By various routes I ended up taking a Masters degree in Philosophy and Psychology of Language, this opened up a whole new world of Ontology and Cognition, and for a while I became very interested in Primate Cognition and Primate Thought and for many years I carried around inside my head what it is to be as Donald Davidson would say a "Rational Animal" 

Meanwhile I got on with my life and went to live as you do in New Zealand, Japan, China, Australia and spent some time in Mongolia. Upon my return to the UK after several years working in the Psychology department and even the Parapsychology department at Edinburgh University developing my understanding of the nature of representation and what it means to represent something in an internal processing system, human or articfical. This led to my PhD which is grandly called the "Ontology of Inductive Systems". 

Understanding representation eventually led to me to sight loss and visual impairment. What are the representations of children who have no vision became very important question and as I began to anwer this I became the manager of Visual Impairment Scotland, and created the first UK child visual impairment notification system. I also became the Head of the Scottish Sensory Centre and went to Australia for 18 months to the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children to develop and create Australia's first visual impairment notification system. Again upon my return I became Deputy Head of Department for Educational Studies, and was also the Head of Institute for Education, Teaching & Leadership (ETL). 

 I followed this period of academic managment with more, being the Deputy Head/Dean of Moray House School of Education and often Acting Head/Dean of Moray House School of Eduation until 2016. 

I am now Professor of Childhood Visual Impairment, and still very much interested in the nature of representation and the evolutionary process of cognition (of those that can and cannot see). 

Hear from John in our podcast.

Photo of Lisa Hamm- young blonde woman smiling at the camera. Lee is wearing a blue top and is photographed outside.

Dr Lisa Hamm

Kia ora, I’m a Canadian pākehā woman, currently living in Tamaki Makaurau, Auckland.

I’m interested in supporting children to thrive in their communities, in relation to their visual development. My research stemmed from an early personal interest in vision, experience supporting those with low vision through the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and volunteer work with the Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO).

My formal academic background is split between retinal-level neuroscience, systems-level vision science, and community-level eye care systems. My thinking about vision continues to be shaped by the different fields, sectors, and cultural perspectives I’m privileged to be exposed to.

My current project is about assessment of visual perception in children with cerebral visual impairment. This work is grounded in ongoing projects about visual perception, neurodevelopmental diversity, effective assessment and rehabilitation strategies, and ways to achieve more equitable access to eyecare.

I believe attempts to support communities that have been marginalised by colonisation and/or who endure ongoing racism and discrimination will fail if societal factors aren’t also addressed. In my personal and professional life, I seek to uncover and deconstruct my own biases, and make space for communities who will build a more equitable future.

When I’m not working, you might find me sewing, painting, or trying to stand up on a surfboard.

Hear from Lisa in our podcast conversation

Plenary Speakers

Photo of a woman with long brown hair, green eyes and a big smile.

Dr Joanne Mosen

Jo Mosen has extensive experience in disability inclusive development across the Asia Pacific region, supported by four post graduate qualifications in education including a PhD in inclusive education. Her work spans disability inclusion in education programs, disability rights and the intersectionality of disability and gender in development programming. Her work also involves research and evaluation relevant to informing an evidence-based understanding of the lived experience of marginalised groups in developing contexts. Jo’s work is underpinned by a rights-based approach with empowerment of people with a disability at the forefront of her work, ensuring opportunities for capacity building and meaningful inclusion. Jo is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the University of Newcastle supporting research and co-supervision of PhD candidates across the Pacific in inclusive education. She is the Pacific President of ICEVI and has lived experience of disability, having acquired a vision impairment at 23 years of age and is a Braille and screen reader user.

Woman with brown hair, wearing a blue tshirt cuddling a golden coloured dog.

Lee Kumatat

Lee Kumutat has taken all the interesting bits of three degrees and combined them with a lot of exciting lived experience as a blind person. She started her education at North Rocks School for the Blind in Sydney Australia before moving to her local public primary school. After completing high school Lee found university and life outside the safety of her school and family bubble confronting and difficult, and as a consequence was unable to complete her first degree.  However after a couple of years of unemployment, Lee landed a sales and marketing job in Sydney with assistive technology company Quantum Technology, which included travelling and working in New Zealand.  After ten successful years in this role, Lee moved to the United Kingdom where she studied journalism and worked for the BBC in Manchester as a freelance radio reporter, presenter and producer. In 2020 she took the opportunity to move to San Francisco and began working as Director of Communications for LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. She is passionate about inclusion and meeting people wherever they are on their blindness journey.

Opening Speaker: Martine Abel-Williamson

Woman sitting on a chair with a guide dog beside her.

Martine Abel-Williamson, QSM is the President of the World Blind Union. She was born in Namibia, South West Africa and completed her education in South Africa before emigrating to New Zealand. Her tertiary qualifications are in the areas of psychology, Deaf culture, vision rehabilitation, education, management and social policy.

She serves on the boards of the International Disability Alliance (IDA), International Association for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB), World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Accessible Books Consortium, Blind Citizens New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB). She works as Senior Human Rights Advisor for the New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

Martine was awarded the Queen’s Service medal (QSM) in 2018for service to disabled persons by the New Zealand government. In 2016 she was awarded the Beamish Memorial Medal from Blind Citizens New Zealand for outstanding service. 

She lives in Auckland, New Zealand and is usually accompanied by her guide dog, Greg.