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MEET THE SPEAKERS

We are extremely pleased to present those who have generously accepted our invitation to have presentations or workshops at the International Conference Deafblindness during the Pandemic, that will take place online between November 23 - 25, 2020.

COMMUNICATION

The theme for Monday, November 23rd 2020, is communication. We will listen to presentations held by specialists in the field of deafblindness from Romania, Great Britain and Norway, representatives of Babeș-Bolyai University from Cluj-Napoca, Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences - Special Education Department, Sense UK, Sense Scotland, School Centre for Inclusive Education Cristal Oradea, Norwegian Assistive Technology Center and Step Change Studios from Great Britain.

About Andrea Hathazi

Andrea Hathazi, PhD., is Associate Professor at the Special Education Department, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

Her domains of interest are education and rehabilitation of people with multiple disabilities, education and rehabilitation of people with visual impairments, assessment and intervention programs in Down Syndrome and support programs and resources in inclusive education. She has published in the domain of multiple disabilities Development of communication skills in deafblindness (Presa Universitara Clujeana, 2014), she is the coordinator of the volume Communication in the context of multiple disabilities, she is the responsible for the collection Education of people with multiple disabilities at Presa Universitară Clujeană publishing house.

She is the coordinator of three Summer Schools regarding Multiple Disabilities that were organized at Babeș-Bolyai University. She has participated in numerous international conferences such as the 6th European Conference on Psychology and Visual Impairment, Budapest, Hungary, 2016 or the 9th ICEVI European Conference in Bruge, Belgium, 2017. Andrea Hathazi is Vice-President and member of the Board of ICEVI Europe, representing the Balkan Countries.

About Rebecca Liddiard

Rebecca Liddiard is Head of Sense Specialist Services for Children and Young People. The national team work with children and young people aged 0-25 who are deafblind, and their families.

Support is bespoke and individualised according to need and may be on a 1:1 basis, in a group setting or more recently through virtual means. Rebecca is a qualified teacher of deafblind children and a qualified teacher of the visually impaired.

She started her career working within specialist schools, working with children with physical disabilities and sensory impairments.

About Paul Hart

Paul has worked for Sense Scotland since 1987, where he is currently Head of Research and Practice and a member of the Senior Management Team.

Paul speaks regularly at conferences and seminars on topics related to assessment, person-centred planning, communication, staff development, happiness, quality lives and the tactile modality. In 2010 he completed his PhD at Dundee University, with a research focus on communication and language development working alongside people who are congenitally deafblind.

Paul guest lectures at a number of universities, including the Masters in Communication and Congenital Deafblindness course at Groningen University in The Netherlands.

About Mihaela Moldovan

After graduating from the Pedagogical Highschool ”Iosif Vulcan” in Oradea, Mihaela graduated from the Faculty of History and Philosophy, Special Education Department at Babeș Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca. She then took a Master course in Integrated Education and during this time, she won a Tempus scholarship in Denmark, giving her the opportunity to study the Danish special education and integrated special education system.

In 2006, Mihaela became a national trainer in the field of deafblindness and multisensory impairments. In 2009 she obtained her PhD in Psychology. She has been working as a special education teacher for the past 23 years, with children having different types of disability.

E. Huslende and L. Weggersen

Elin Huslende (34) and Lise Weggersen (39) have worked as sign language interpreters since 2009 and 2005. They are employed as interpreters and consultants at the Norwegian Assistive Technology Center, and are responsible for the national consulting office for interpreting services regarding people with deafblindness.

The main tasks are gathering knowledge and creating guidelines in how to handle challenges that may occur during interpreter services. The aim is equal service for the deafblind throughout the country.

They also offer their help when local service offices and clients are in need of assistance.

About Rashmi Becker

Rashmi is the founder of Step Change Studios, which provides opportunities for D/deaf and disabled people to dance.

Over 20 years, she has developed expertise in the arts, sport, social affairs, and disability advocacy. She is a Board Member of Sport England, also serving as the Board Champion for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. She holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge where her research focused on Intellectual Disability.

Accolades include the UK Prime Minister’s Points of Light Award in recognition of promoting accessibility in dance, One Dance UK Innovation Award, and National Learning Disabilities and Autism Award for Outstanding Contribution to Innovation.

TECHNOLOGY

The theme for Tuesday, November 24th 2020, is technology. We will listen to presentations in the field of deafblindness and assistive technology from Russia and Romania, representatives of The Deafblind Support Foundation «Con-nection» Rusia, University of Bucharest, Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences - Special Education Department, Sensor-Tech Laboratories Russia, Association for Urban Development, Orange Foundation, Code for Romania and Sense Internațional România.

About Julia Mayorova

Julia is the Director of the Deafblind Support Resource Center in Moscow, that provides services for children and adults with multiple disabilities and educational courses for specialists, who work with deafblind people.

Julia has extensive experience in organizing international scientific conferences and specializes in working with young researchers. She created and led the project "Mentors and students'', which aims to develop a scientific school for the study of deafblindness in Russia and the formation of a sustainable scientific community.

She started a new format of the International Young Researchers Conference on deafblindness, with the main aim of this event to give the opportunity to young scientists within the field of deafblindness to share experiences and to create an international network.

About Alina Khokhlova

Alina is Assistant Professor in Moscow State University of Psychology and Education and a psychologist in Deafblind Support Resource Center.

For the past  15 years, she has worked as a psychologist in the School for the Deaf, Home Department for children with multiple disabilities.

She has more than 25 publications in Russian, with the main topics: cognitive development of the Deaf, sign language and communication, communication in families with deaf and deafblind children.

About Cristian Buică-Belciu

Cristian Buică Belciu, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Special Education is the Chair of the Department of Special Psycho-pedagogy (Special Education) within the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Bucharest, Romania and a member on the Board of Directors of the Romanian Psychologists College.

Also, he is a member of Deafblind International.His professional activities include the participation in national and international programmes, post-graduate training courses - including the areas of deafblindness and multisensory impairments, attending national and international symposiums, conferences and workshops. He is author and co-author of many scientific papers (books, chapters in collective volumes, scientific articles, communications).

About Denis Kuleshov

Mr. Denis Kuleshov is Head of Laboratory "Sensor-Tech" which develops innovative technologies and devices for people with sensory impairments. He started his professional career in the sphere of technological rehabilitation and assistive technology at the Center for Complex Rehabilitation of the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing, BMSTU.

Then, Denis co-established "The center for development of social innovation "Enabling Technologies" where he oversees research and education projects. Author of 14 research papers and 8 patents.

For his active participation and implementation of socially significant projects, Denis Kuleshov has been awarded commendation by the Russian President and the Mayor of Moscow.

About Dan Patzelt

Dan is the founder of the Association for Urban Development. He was born in Bucharest in 1978. He graduated from Jean Monnet Highschool in Bucharest and the Faculty of Film within the National University of Theater and Film, specialising in Film and TV Cinematography (2000-2004).

He worked as Cameraman and Photography Director (Pro TV, Antena 1, Castel Film, Media Pro). He established the Association for Urban Development in 2007, and since 2010 he has been implementing lobby and advocacy projects dedicated to people with visual impairments.

In 2020, he launched the e-learning platform Tactile Images, giving children with visual impairment everywhere the chance to discover the world independently, with the help of assistive technology.

About Amalia Fodor

An experienced strategist and manager, both in the business sector and the non-for-profit, Amalia Fodor has an experience of more than 20 years in integrated corporate, organisational and commercial  communication.

Amalia is passionate about promoting the benefits of digital technology as an efficient and useful method to integrate disadvantaged people and communities.

Since 2012, she has been the Director of Orange Foundation, and through the programmes developed, is a pioneer in promoting the use of digital technologies in education and inclusion towards a better, more educated and more inclusive society.

About Olivia Vereha

Having a background in communication and User Experience Design, Olivia has been dedicating her time since 2016, to coordinating the programmes of Code for Romania.

Passionate about technology and the way in which the digital can shape and improve the everyday life of people, Olivia’s objective is to understand in depth human behavior in its interaction with the online environment.

With a strong focus on functionality, efficiency and simplification, her greatest challenge is to translate from complicated to simple, from big to small, from chaos to meaning, everything linked with building digital solutions that aim at solving problems that we are all facing.

About Etelka Czondi

Etelka joined the SIR team in 2007, as Programmes and Communication Coordinator. Beginning with April 1st 2017, she took on the position of Director.

With an NGO experience of more than 20 years in Romania, Etelka has worked along the years with the European Children’s Trust and the Romanian Prader Willi Associations.

She is licensed in Communication and Public Relations and in Psychology and is currently enrolled in a Master Degree Course at the University Bucharest, Faculty of Philosophy, studying International Development and Ethics of International Relations.

OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES

The theme on Wednesday, November 25th 2020, is represented by the opportunities and challenges of deafblindenss in the context of the pandemic. WE will listen to presentations held by specialists in the field of deafblindness from The Netherlands, Great Britain, Norway and Romania, representatives of Deafblind International,  St. Andrews University Great Britain, CVI Scotland, Sense UK, Signo Foundation Norway and Sense International Romania.

About Frank Kat

Frank Kat has over 18 years of experience in the field of Deafblindness, working with a very wide range of people and organisations, mainly education, research and care.

Frank has worked internationally, as a member of the Board of Deafblind International and being active as Treasurer, the Vice President and since 2019 President of Deafblind international. He has been the director of the Centre of Excellence on Deafblindness of Royal Dutch Kentalis in the Netherlands.

He started at Royal Dutch Kentalis as the headmaster of Kentalis Mariella (MDVI) and later at the School for Deafblind children, Kentalis Rafael, in the Netherlands. Frank has a special focus on the development of children, information and communication technology and with a great passion for inclusive education and care.

About Andrew Blaikie

Dr. Andrew Blaikie is a Consultant Ophthalmologist in NHS Fife and Senior Lecturer in the Infection and Global Health Division team at the University of St Andrews.

He has studied, worked and taught throughout Africa having been lead for paediatric ophthalmology at CCBRT Hospital in Tanzania and currently seconded to the Rwandan Charity Eye Hospital for 4 months per year. In the UK he was a member of the team that established the National Notification system for Childhood Visual Impairment.

His main interests are frugal diagnostic and teaching simulation tools for low resource countries as well as neuro-ophthalmic diseases.

About Helen St Clair Tracy

Helen St Clair Tracy is the parent founder and one of the lead writers for the charity, the Cerebral Visual Impairment Society of Scotland (CVI Scotland). 

CVI Scotland’s website is used in one hundred and sixty countries and is considered the leading international resource.  Helen speaks nationally and internationally on CVI, including keynote, and is passionate about empowering with knowledge, particularly the families and those closest to affected people. 

Helen works alongside colleagues from several universities, particularly the Universities of St Andrews and Edinburgh.

About Jonathan Monk

Jonathan joined Sense in 2015.  He is responsible for leading our holidays and short breaks programme; quality assurance and safeguarding; volunteering; and the national arts, sports and well-being programme. 

He also oversees the Sense Specialist Services for Children and Young People and is the strategic lead for ensuring that children and families get the best possible start in life.  He co-chairs our Sense User Reference Group to ensure that the people Sense supports are involved in our strategic plans and the way our services are developed and delivered.

He is a registered social worker and has worked in social care services with people with disabilities for over 25 years.

About Veslemøy Ytrestøyl

Veslemøy Ytrestøyl has been working with deaf children for 25 years before she, 5 years ago, started her work with adults with congenital deafblindness at Signo Vivo, Norway.

She is administering a house with five residents living at their own apartment within the house.

Veslemøy is educated as a social worker. Throughout the years, she has added on to her education with pedagogical and psychological studies such as “Attachment and human development” and “Atypical communication” to mention some.

About Mădălina Simion

Mădălina is a final year student at the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences from Babeș-Bolyai University Cluj Napoca, specialising in Special Psycho-pedagogy (special education). During her studies at the School Center for Inclusive Education Elena Doamna in Focșani, she took part in many activities organised by Sense International Romania in her school. Herself a young woman with deafblindness, she became a volunteer of Sense International Romania:

”One thing which I learned from Sense is that disability does not define you, it doesn’t impose limits on you, but it reconstructs you. It opens your eyes towards a horizon that many don’t see. It gives you the chance to develop what many people see as a “disability” into an “ability”. To me, Sense means dynamics, opportunity, equality, courage and love. For people and for a change for the better. As it should be in and about the life of an individual.”

About Viorel Micu

Viorel Micu is a member on the Board of Sense International Romania. He graduated from Babeș Bolyai University Cluj Napoca, Special Education Faculty.

For 15 years, he has been the guide-interpreter for professor Vasile Adamescu, a person with deafblindness, and together they worked a lot in the field of deafblindness.

He had the opportunity to work directly with children with deafblindness and multisensory impairments, having a contribution in their education.

About Ramona Antonie

Ramona joined SIR team in 2006 as a social worker, then HR Coordinator and afterwards as Programmes Manager.

Before joining SIR, Ramona had worked for the Association “AS 2001 Alba Iulia” and the Counseling Center for Domestic Violence Victims, a service developed by Alba Iulia Town hall.

She is licensed in social work and psychology, with a master degree in human resources management and in clinical psychology , with subsequent specializations in psychological counseling and couples, family and child systemic psychotherapy.