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Keynote Presenters

Emma Bennison

Emma Bennison is the CEO of Blind Citizens Australia, the national representative voice of Australians who are blind or vision-impaired. To find out more about Blind Citizens Australia’s work, visit A passionate advocate for the rights of people with disability to lead full and productive lives, Emma takes every opportunity to challenge the myths and misconceptions which too often hinder people with disability from reaching their full potential. Prior to joining Blind Citizens Australia, Emma spent five years as CEO of Arts Access Australia, the peak national body for arts and disability. The first person with disability to be appointed to the role, Emma spearheaded a successful campaign which saw the Australia Council for the Arts provide dedicated funding to artists with disability for the first time and built the capacity of people with disability to take on leadership roles across the arts and cultural sector.

Emma is also a singer and song-writer whose work often focuses on her experiences as  a person with disability and as an advocate. In 2015, she released an album called “Fine Line”, details of which can be found at

Emma is a Director of the Attitude Foundation, which is shaping a new understanding of disability through the promotion and development of media content that provides realistic portrayals of people with disability. Recently, Emma was invited to join Tasmania’s Ministerial Arts and Cultural Advisory Council.

Emma spoke to Trudy Smith recently on the Renwick Centre Podcast: click the following link to listen! Episode 67 - Emma Bennison

Photo of Emma Bennison
Emma Bennison photo

Charlotte Cushman

Charlotte Cushman, MLS, M.Ed., is the manager of the Paths to Literacy and Active Learning Space websites, both of which are collaborative projects between Perkins School for the Blind and Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired in the United States.  A former classroom teacher at Perkins, Ms. Cushman has worked in the field of visual impairment and special education for nearly 40 years.  She has worked extensively overseas, including several years as a Peace Corps volunteer and trainer in Africa, as well as a consultant for Perkins International in Africa and Asia.  Ms. Cushman has worked as an education consultant for the New England Center Deafblind project, and has been a co-author and editor of a number of books in the field, including Functional Literacy”in Keys to Educational Success: Teaching Students with Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities (AFB Press, 2016) and Perkins Activity and Resource Guide: A Handbook for Teachers and Parents of Students with Visual and Multiple Disabilities.  In addition to her work as an educator and teacher trainer, Ms. Cushman has a degree in Library and Information Services, with a focus on archives and digital projects.  She has worked at the Library of Congress, and has held positions as a librarian and archivist.

Ms. Cushman is passionate about the rights of all children to learn.  She believes in the power of collaboration, and the importance of practical strategies to use in real world situations.  She is honored to be part of the 2021 SPEVI Conference with the theme of “Celebrating Change”.

Charlotte joined us on the Renwick Centre Podcast - tune into her episode now! Click on the following link: Episode 68 - Charlotte Cushman

Charlotte Cushman photo
Charlotte Cushman photo

More keynote presenters will be announced shortly!