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13 September 2023
09:00 UK / 04:00 EST

Disability Innovation Summit: Speakers

Coloured photograph of Lizzie Smith, a woman with shoulder length dark hair, wearing bright red lipstick and glasses

Lizzie Smith

Founder of Gradatim

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Born with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy, Lizzie channelled her artistic and academic talents into positive change, founding Gradatim to developed innovative, age-appropriate picture books that gently facilitate discussions about health diagnoses with children under 5.

Lizzie’s journey is a testament to resilience, perseverance, and passion. Born with Ataxic Cerebral Palsy, Lizzie has shattered expectations, forging a path of education and advocacy. Holding a Masters in Psychology of Mental Health from University of Edinburgh and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Fine Art from Arts University Bournemouth, she has skilfully channelled her artistic and academic talents into positive change, founding ‘Gradatim’.

Through Gradatim, she's developed innovative, age-appropriate picture books. These books gently facilitate discussions about health diagnoses with children under 5, effectively complementing their treatment plans. Drawing from her own journey as a child with complex health, Lizzie recognises the need to create resources to open dialogue between carer and child, allowing children's questions to arise naturally. Gradatim stands as a ground-breaking initiative with a profound impact on early childhood health resources.

Beyond academia and entrepreneurship, Lizzie champions disability awareness and adaptive education. Her advocacy extends to highlighting the potential of alternative educational paths in achieving one's aspirations. Her narrative is an inspiration, illustrating that adversity can be a springboard for opportunity. It reinforces the idea that everyone’s voice can wield a substantial impact, despite the hurdles you face.

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Dr. Victoria Austin
Co-founder and CEO of GDI Hub

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Victoria co-founded GDI Hub with Cathy and Iain in 2016, and leads the CIC team as well teaching on the MSc and being a co-Director of the WHO Collaborating Center on AT at UCL.

Previously Head of London 2012 Paralympic Legacy, Vicki brings over 20 years experience of working on disability and social justice on major international projects. Her own research focuses on Disability in the Global South, and her PhD research was in Sierra Leone.

A coloured photograph of Amba, an Indian woman with short dark hair, wearing glasses

Amba Salelkar

Senior Manager, Helpdesk, at the International Disability Alliance

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Amba Salelkar is the Senior Manager, Helpdesk, at the International Disability Alliance. IDA's Helpdesk is focused on the provision of inclusive technical assistance to OPDs and partners, through the engagement of its Community of Practice.

She joined IDA in September 2019 as the Bridge CRPD-SDGs Fellow. Since August 2020 she has been full time staff with the Capacity Building Unit. She is a lawyer and moved into the disability policy advocacy space after a 7-year career in criminal trial litigation. She is an alumni of the Bridge CRPD-SDGs Training initiative as well as the ToT. Since 2012, she has supported organisations of persons with disabilities in India, including from underrepresented groups and women with disabilities, to participate in policy advocacy. She has also worked with several organizations as a trainer and safeguarding consultant. She is a recipient of the Chevening Gurukul Fellowship for Leadership & Excellence. Amba is a woman with psychosocial disability. Amba is based in Chennai, India.

A photograph of Pete Donnelly, a white man with ginger hair and a bear. Smiling towards the camera. Photographed outside

Pete Donnelly

Founder of The Wheelchair Skills College

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Pete Donnelly has been using a wheelchair for 17 years and teaching wheelchair skills for 15 years. He places a huge value on the skills that he uses on a daily basis to get around in his wheelchair and believes that the confidence and independence gained from learning these skills have enabled him to achieve the things he has, whether that be building a career or travelling the world.

After spending the last decade working in programme management roles across several charities that focus on supporting disabled people, Pete realised that it was time to make a change to the lives of wheelchair users and founded his social enterprise, The Wheelchair Skills College, with the vision that every wheelchair user should have access to learn essential wheelchair skills, believing that filling this current gap is more than a ‘nice to have’ service and is in fact a fundamental human right.

Associate Professor Youngjun Cho
Associate Professor at UCL Computer Science & Director of MSc DDI & Computer Scientist

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Youngjun is an Associate Professor in the department of computer science at University College London (UCL) and Director of the Disability, Design and Innovation MSc programme. He explores, builds and evaluates novel techniques and technologies for the next generation of physiological and affective computing that help boost disability technology innovation. He has pioneered mobile thermal imaging-based physiological sensing and affect recognition (e.g. mental stress).

He completed a PhD from Faculty of Brain Sciences at UCL. Before joining UCL Computer Science, he was a senior research scientist at LG Electronics (2011-2018) and led a variety of industrial research projects, successfully commercializing his novel sensing and machine learning techniques (e.g. gesture-driven advanced touchscreen for vehicles).

He has authored more than 70 articles (including patents) in areas related to affective, physiological computing, machine learning, human-computer interaction and multimodal sensing and feedback. Some of the achievements have been featured in forums for the general public such as BBC News, Phys.Org, Imaging and Machine Vision Europe, and SBS News.

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Pollyanna Wardrop
Financial Inclusion Researcher for GDI Hub

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Pollyanna is a Financial Inclusion Researcher for GDI Hub. Her work focuses on improving financial inclusion for individuals with disabilities across various projects. Pollyanna is motivated to leverage rigorous qualitative and anthropological research into intelligent solution design and impact for equity and inclusion. Pollyanna is a member of the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Anthropology of Policy and Practice Committee, which provides a forum for discussion of ethnographic and anthropological research on policymaking and practices in health, development, humanitarian, public sector, Parliament, corporate, and civil society organizations.Pollyanna’s expertise and interests include diversity, equity, and inclusion within financial services, and she was previously Chair of Financial Services Culture Board FSCB’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Kathryn Townsend a white female wearing spectacles smiling at the camera

Kathryn Townsend

Head of Customer Vulnerability at Nationwide Building Society.

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Kathryn has been leading the advancement of accessibility in business for more than 10 years. Her day job is Head of Customer Vulnerability at Nationwide Building Society. It’s her responsibility to define and execute the strategy to ensure that Nationwide’s members receive a market-leading, inclusive experience.

Kathryn is the Government Disability Ambassador for the Banking Sector, a three year position driving accessibility across the banking sector. Prior to joining Nationwide, Kathryn led the disability and vulnerability program at Barclays, where they were recognized as a global leader in accessibility. Kathryn’s work has received numerous awards in the field, including MoneyFacts and the Business Disability Forum. Kathryn has spoken to global audiences as an ambassador for financial inclusion and accessibility, including at the UN in Vienna.

Kathryn led a partnership with the Barclays Investment Bank in New York and the New York Mayor’s Office to run several events in 2015 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. She is a founding member of the Visit England Inclusive Tourism Action Group (EITAG) and, since 2021, a trustee of Euan’s Guide, the disability access charity.

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Dr Tigmanshu Bhatnagar
Research Fellow

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Dr Tigmanshu Bhatnagar is a research fellow at the GDI Hub. He is leading the Live Labs research which explores new ways to facilitate user-centered design and development for assistive technology innovations.

His PhD research focused on the development of a new refreshable tactile disability technology, addressing a practical challenge of limited access to tactile information for blind students through a basic material science and user-centered design research.

His interest lies in disability innovation and design.

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Professor Catherine Holloway
Co-founder, Academic Director of GDI Hub and Professor at UCL's Interaction Centre

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Cathy is a creative leader who looks to expand the role and relevance of academia through her research, teaching, engagement and innovation activities. She is pioneering the Disability Interaction framework to help accelerate disability innovation for a fairer world. This work spans the domains of human-computer interaction, accessibility and assistive technology and policy. Cathy’s research portfolio includes the development of new prosthetics for both the UK and lower income countries; the use of the Internet of Things to automate the creation of city-level accessibility maps for wheelchair users in Delhi and London; and the development of inclusive innovation methods. All of Cathy’s work has an ethos of co-development.

Cathy has published over 80 peer-reviewed papers and is co-PI of the AT2030 programme. Cathy is a member of the Expert Advisory Group for the World Health Organization WHO’s Word Report on Assistive Technology and sits on the EPSRC, Healthcare Technologies SAT where she is also the Big Ideas Champion. Cathy previously delivered the concept of (and ran four-years) the highly-successful James Dyson Foundation Summer School-UCL wheelchair hacking summer schoo

Prior to joining UCL Cathy worked as a Research and Development Engineer for Medtronic. She is a former Japan Society for the Promotion of Science fellow, and has delivered a range of keynotes and discussion pieces including to the British Council in Tokyo, the World Health Organisation and at the Paralympics in Rio. Cathy is also a Director and co-founder of two social enterprises – Movement Metrics and the GDI Hub Community Interest Company.

Coloured photograph of Kylie Shae, a white woman with short dark hair smiling at the camera. Pictured in front a backdrop of the Sustainable Development Goals

Kylie Shae

Team Lead, Access to Assistive Technology, at World Health Organization

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Kylie Shae is Team Lead, Access to Assistive Technology, at World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva. Her role includes supporting member states to operationalise the 71st World Health Assembly resolution on improving access to assistive technology, as well as mobilizing the global assistive technology sector through GATE, the Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology.

Kylie has worked in the field of disability and international development since 1991 and has a strong rights-based and equity-focused approach to inclusive and sustainable development. After working with a British-based INGO, which involved living and working on development projects in multiple low-income countries for many years, Kylie founded Motivation Australia. She led this organisation between 2007 - 2020, working alongside Government and Non-Government partners in the Pacific Region to build sustainable rehabilitation and assistive technology services. In 2019 Kylie was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her work in the Pacific.

Kylie is passionate about implementing equitable, practical solutions to enable increased access to assistive technology for all – including those who are hardest to reach. She sees this as a fundamental facilitator for inclusion and participation and believes it to be a key component of good, global development that leaves no-one behind.

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Iain McKinnon
Co-founder and Director of Inclusive Design

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Co-founder and Director of Operations for the CIC, Iain also leads on Inclusive Design for GDI Hub. This includes teaching on our MSc and leading our Inclusive Design research and consultancy work.

Iain brings considerable experience working on Inclusive Design as both a consultant and client. He led on Inclusive Design for the development of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as part of the London 2012 Paralympic Legacy programme, producing the Inclusive Design Standards and facilitating the Built Environment Access Panel.

Coloured photograph of Fernando, a white man with short dark hair. Pictured here wearing a suit and stood next to a UNICEF sign. Smiling widely.

Fernando Botelho

Programme Specialist, Assistive Technology, UNICEF

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Fernando Botelho is the Assistive Technology Programme Specialist at UNICEF's Programme Group Leadership Team in New York. He works to improve international cooperation and strengthen national systems to increase access to assistive technology. Prior to his work at UNICEF, Fernando founded F123 Consulting, a social enterprise dedicated to designing, developing, and distributing affordable assistive technology for persons who are blind.

Fernando's experience also includes managing the Visionaris Award, a partnership between Ashoka and UBS AG, in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. Before his work for UBS Philanthropy Services in Zurich, Fernando worked for the International Trade Centre UNCTAD/WTO, an agency of the United Nations in Geneva. At ITC, Fernando managed export-promotion projects in Africa and Latin America. Before joining ITC, he was Director of Technology at a New York NGO. Fernando has degrees from Georgetown University and Cornell University.

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Anna Landre
PhD student and Research Fellow

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Anna is a wheelchair-using activist and scholar whose work spans the disciplines of disability studies, humanitarian relief, international development, urban planning, human-computer interaction, and social care policy. Within these, she focuses on the disability law "implementation gap", in which progressive legal standards often fail to improve disabled people's lives in practice. Her PhD will explore how technology can aid local governments and disability communities in better auditing and improving urban disability access.

She recently worked as the Ukraine Crisis Focal Point at The Partnership for Disaster Strategies, a US-based disability-led disaster response organization, to support Ukrainian disability rights organization Fight for Right in launching an evacuation and humanitarian aid mechanism for disabled Ukrainians being left behind in the international response to the war. In the past, Anna worked with the Partnership on disability justice-oriented pandemic relief policies and helped to expand the organization's presence in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Anna's advocacy efforts have been featured in outlets including The New York Times, Washington Post, Forbes, Vogue, and others. She was just named to the Shaw Trust's Disability Power 100, a list of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK.

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Christopher Patnoe

Head of Accessibility and Disability Inclusion for EMEA at Google

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Christopher Patnoe is the Head of Accessibility and Disability Inclusion for EMEA at Google. He leads Google's efforts around the accessibility of product, people, policy and partnerships across EMEA - with a particular focus on Emerging Markets. He has more than 25 years experience in Tech working at companies like Apple, Sony Ericsson and Disney where he's built hardware, software, games, and services. His current passion is Accessibility at the intersection of immersive technologies (xR) and consumer hardware. He is the chair for the Immersive Captions Community Group with the W3C, is the Accessibility Working Group Co-Chair for the XR Association, and sat on the Board of Trustees for the American Foundation for the Blind and the GAAD Foundation. Christopher has a degree in Music from UC Berkeley.

Pascal Bijleveld

CEO of ATscale

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Pascal Bijleveld has over 20 years of leadership experience in global development at country, regional and global levels. He has straddled the private and public sectors, working with McKinsey, WHO, UNICEF, CHAI, and Gavi. In his current role as CEO of ATscale, he works to increase access to Assistive Technology in low- and middle-income countries.
ATscale, the Global Partnership for Assistive Technology (AT), is a cross-sector global partnership with a mission to transform people’s lives through AT. It catalyzes action to ensure that, by 2030, an additional 500 million people in low- and middle-income countries get the life-changing AT they need. ATscale works with governments, AT users, NGOs, bilateral donors, the private sector, and multilateral organizations to increase awareness and political will and support innovation and investment in AT markets, systems, and services.

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Banya Ojok

International Disability Alliance [IDA-GDI Hub Assistive Technology User Fellow]

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Banya Ojok is currently working with International Disability Alliance as IDA-GDI Hub Assistive Technology User Fellow. Banya holds a BA degree in community psychology from makerere university Kampala Uganda and a certificate in capacity building at Egmont hojskolen odder, Denmark. Since 2013, Banya has conducted various research/survey studies; developed training and user manuals, seminar/workshop facilitation, monitoring tools, evaluations, concept papers/project proposals and strategic plans for individuals and civil society organizations. Previously, banya was a board member and secretary to the national youth committee Uganda national association of the blind [unab]; western Uganda youths’ representative at the national union of disabled people of Uganda youth committee; international resource person [irp] for Uganda national association of the blind in Norway. Banya is based in Uganda.

Dr Leda Kamenopoulou, a white female with curly black hair and an orange top smiling at the camera.

Dr Leda Kamenopoulou

Dr Leda Kamenopoulou, Associate Professor, IOE, UCL.

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Dr Leda Kamenopoulou is Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology and Human Development, Institute of Education (IOE), UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society. Her research and teaching focus on multisensory impairment (deafblindness), digital accessibility, and inclusive education in the Global South, with particular emphasis on decolonising approaches and methodologies. Leda’s work also explores teacher preparation for inclusive education in different contexts and the current dilemmas that the international community faces as it strives to meet Sustainable Development Goal 4, the global goal for inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all. Leda is a Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy with over 15 years of experience of teaching and supervising master’s and doctoral students.

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Mikaela Patrick
Head of Inclusive Infrastructure and Climate

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At GDI Hub, Mikaela is Head of Inclusive Infrastructure and Climate. In this role, Mikaela works at the intersection of inclusion, sustainability and climate change, particularly focusing on inclusive and resilient cities. Mikaela is research lead on the AT2030 Inclusive Infrastructure sub-programme. Over a period of four years, the sub-programme has conducted 6 global case studies to develop insights on inclusive design in cities in various settings such as Mongolia, India, Sierra Leone and Colombia. Mikaela is based in Barcelona but also spends time in London and in the field.

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Nick Gompertz

CEO/ Director EarSwitch Ltd

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Nick Gompertz is a former GP (family doctor) and after 30 years working in the NHS left to help unlock communication for people locked in with MND/ ALS, brain stem stroke and cerebral palsy.

Nick developed the EarSwitch; earbuds providing handsfree switch control by voluntarily squeezing a tiny muscle in the ear.

EarSwitch is being developed with three National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR, UK) grants and the hope is to have clinical validation completed and the first units available in mid 2024.

Nick is anxious not to raise undue expectations but is hopeful that the EarSwitch will improve communication options for at least some people with neurological conditions.

It also raises the possibility of improving stroke rehabilitation by seamlessly providing control of functional upper limb exoskeletons, operating assistive feeding robots and ultimately help with environmental controls and mobility.

Nick now leads a team of 10, and is Patron of the Scott-Morgan Foundation; allowing everyone the right to thrive through technology.

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Professor Sujatha Srinivasan

Professor, Indian Institute of Technology Madras Honorary Professor, UCL

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Professor Sujatha Srinivasan heads the TTK Center for Rehabilitation Research and Device Development (R2D2) at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) and the newly inaugurated National Center for Assistive Health Technologies (NCAHT-IITM). Her translational research focuses on applying design and biomechanics to develop functional and affordable assistive/rehabilitation devices for people with movement disability, of which four have been commercialized with industry partners through a unique collaborative approach called the GRID Model. She is co-author of 60+ refereed journal/conference publications and co-inventor of 30+ patents, and co-founder of IITM-incubated startups on assistive devices: NeoMotion, and upcoming Thryv Mobility and Thira Rehab Solutions. More details are available at

Sujatha did her B. Tech at IIT Madras, Masters at the University of Toledo and received her PhD from the Ohio State University, Columbus, USA, all in Mechanical Engineering. She worked in the prosthetics industry for several years prior to starting her PhD. She has been at IIT Madras since 2008 and has over 30 years of experience in innovations in assistive technologies.

Brian Mwenda, a bla black male, with a beard,  wearing a grey suit, paired with a white shirt smiling at the camera

Brian Mwenda

Founder & CEO at Hope Tech; Products Director at Senses Hub

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In the dynamic intersection of technology and societal change, Brian Mwenda stands as a visionary leader and a relentless advocate for persons with disabilities with a focus on the visually impaired community. As the Founder and CEO of Hope Tech, Brian guides a global team dedicated to transforming lives through assistive technology innovations. Since 2017, his efforts have been steering a societal shift, changing the global perspective and interaction with the visually impaired community. Brian has deployed assistive devices for the visually impaired in multiple markets and The Sixth Sense aid is due to launch soon in UK, Austria and Kenya.

Brian has been fostering an inclusive, barrier-free society as the Products Director at Senses Hub since May 2023. He directs his adeptness in communication, business strategy, and product development to lead pivotal shifts in the society, bridging gaps and nurturing an inclusive community in Africa and beyond.

An award-winning innovator, Brian has been recognized as the 2019 winner of the Diversity and Inclusion Awards for the best innovative and inclusive deployment of technology. Other recognitions are the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation 2017/2018, Innovate Now cohort 1 2019, Royal Academy of Engineering’s Leaders in Innovation Fellowship and many more. His dedication to inclusivity has not only transformed lives but is also reshaping the narrative surrounding disabilities on a global scale.

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Puneet Singhal

Community manager at the Global Network of Young Persons with Disabilities

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My name is Puneet Singh Singhal (he/him) from New Delhi, India. I am a person with an undiagnosed learning disability who stammers. I see my life as the intersection of poverty, domestic violence, and multiple non-visible disabilities. I am a disability activist advocating for a more inclusive and accessible society for people with different, distinct, visible, and non-visible disabilities. I am the founder of a non-profit called SSstart, which works towards normalizing speech and communication disabilities. I am part of organizations like NASA, Diversability, IUCN CEC,, and NeuroGifted.

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Derick Omari

Technology Entrepreneur, Disability Inclusion & Accessibility Consultant

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Derick is an award-winning social entrepreneur and consultant specializing in assistive technology, accessibility, and disability programming. As the leader of Tech Era, he spearheads the development of accessible hardware and software products for schools, households, and persons with disabilities. Additionally, he co-founded VDL Fulfilment, a technology logistics company that facilitates businesses entering new markets.

With a strong commitment to accessibility, Derick holds certifications as a Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) from the International Association of Accessibility Professionals and as a certified Google Chrome Accessibility Expert. Recently, he was appointed as the National Consultant for the United Nations on Disability, entrusted with leading the development of a country-level strategic plan to re-enact the national disability act.

A distinguished academic, Derick is a Leading Change Scholar from Cambridge University and a Chevening scholar. He completed his master's with distinction in Disability Design and Innovation at University College of London, and he is also an Ashesi University Alum and received the Presidential award at the end of his undergraduate. His exceptional contributions to the field have earned him several accolades, including the prestigious Queens Young Leaders Award presented by Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace in 2018.

Photo: Lydia smiles and tilts their head slightly to the side, looking confidently at the camera. They are a young-ish East Asian person with a streak of teal in their short black hair, wearing glasses, a cobalt blue jacket and navy tie, with a blue copper wall behind them. Photo by Sarah Tundermann.

Lydia X. Z. Brown

Founding Executive Director, The Autistic People of Color Fund Vice Chair & Past President, Disability Rights Bar Association Lecturer in Disability Studies and Women's and Gender Studies, Georgetown University

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Lydia X. Z. Brown is a queer, disabled, and East Asian advocate, organizer, attorney, strategist, and writer. They are the Director of Public Policy at the National Disability Institute, founding Executive Director of the Autistic People of Color Fund, and Lecturer in Disability Studies at Georgetown University. They bring nearly 15 years of experience as a committed advocate, community organizer, and policy expert at the nexus of disability rights and disability justice. Lydia has spoken, facilitated, and consulted globally on a range of topics related to disability rights and disability justice, especially at the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality, and has published in numerous scholarly and community publications. Their work addresses the deep interconnections between ableism and other forms of systemic discrimination, marginalization, and oppression, and has often focused on interpersonal, state, and corporate violence, deprivation, and exploitation targeting disabled people at the margins of the margins. Often, their most important work has no title, job description, or funding, and probably never will.

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Roshni Poddar

Research fellow at Microsoft in Bangalore

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I’m a pre-doctoral research fellow at Microsoft Research, India, where I work on the intersection of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and accessibility. My research interests are to co-design and evaluate accessible solutions that enable learning through play for people with disabilities, especially for the Global South. I have a B. Tech in Computer Science from PES University in Bangalore, India. In my spare time, I enjoy painting, reading, and walking in nature.

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Richard Cave

Speech and Language Therapist (SLT), PhD candidate at University College London

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Richard Cave, is a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT), PhD candidate at University College London, national adviser to Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists for motor neurone disease (MND) and voice banking technology, and recipient of the 2022 Allied Professional award from the International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations. Richard works with the MND Association, providing training and practical support for communication technology. He also works with Google, providing specialist Speech Therapy consultancy to the technology teams.

Dr Blaikie, a white male with dark brown hair and wearing glasses and a light blue shirt

Dr Andrew Blaikie

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

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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 where he leads the Arclight Project - His main interests are in the development, evaluation and implementation of frugal diagnostic and teaching tools for eye and ear care in low resource countries. He works with several eye care NGOs and is a technical consultant with CBM Global.

Dr Kush Kanodia holding the paralympic torch over his head while in a white track suit

Dr Kush Kanodia

Kush is a disability rights and race equality champion, a multiple award-winning social entrepreneur and a systems leader.

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Kush is a disability rights and race equality champion, a multiple award-winning social entrepreneur and a systems leader. Kush creates systemic change for the inclusion of disabled people.

In 2022, Kush was awarded with an Honorary degree for Doctor of Science, for having an inspirational career as a disability and rights champion and social entrepreneur with Kent University. The University of Kent acknowledged Kush’s system leadership of NHS England stating that:

“This is by some margin the single largest and most impactful change in the treatment of disabled people in the history of the NHS."

Kush’s new campaign focuses on climate and social justice for disabled people by providing reasonable adjustments from London’s ULEZ. Kush achieved success in transforming ULEZ before the expansion to the whole of Greater London in 2023, this supported over ¼ million disabled people and now plans to create national policy in England.

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Bernard Chiira

Innovate Now

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Bernard is the director and co-founder of Global Disability Innovation Hub’s Innovate Now Africa’s first assistive technology accelerator program. His professional journey and experience span 9 years as an expert across innovation, entrepreneurship, assistive technology, disability, new venture development & investment. He has worked across diverse technology, innovation and entrepreneurship development projects with partners and organizations across Africa, Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

In 2020, Bernard was named as one of the top 100 most influential leaders in science and technology by Advance media, and a 50 most fabulous innovative leaders awardee by world innovation congress. In 2023, he was named a Compassionate Circle Leader honouree and featured on Forbes in the article “Disability Tech as a Game Changer for 2023 and Beyond”.

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Fre Seghers

Clinton Health Access Initiative

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Frederic is overseeing the Global Assistive Technology Program at the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI). CHAI is a global health organization committed to saving lives and reducing the burden of disease in low-and middle-income countries, while strengthening the capabilities of governments and the private sector in those countries to create and sustain high-quality health systems that can succeed without our assistance.

Having joined CHAI in 2014, Frederic has supported the development of new programs across infectious and non-communicable diseases with a focus on increasing access to essential health products. Before joining CHAI, Frederic worked at Bain & Co and Procter & Gamble in management consulting and brand management respectively. He holds a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from Ghent University (Belgium).

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Rama Gheerawo

Director, The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art RCA Reader in Inclusive Design

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Rama is an international figure within design. He won a Design Week ‘Hall of Fame’ award in 2019 and was named a 2018 Creative Leader by Creative Review alongside Paul Smith and Björk. He addresses diversity across age, ability, gender and race. He is a serial innovator in the field of Inclusive Design and Design Thinking having led over 100 international projects with government, business, academia and the third sector with clients such as Samsung, Toyota and Panasonic. He champions Creative Leadership, having trained thousands of people including over 750 civil servants. He holds visiting professorships and advisory roles globally for business, new ventures, universities, awards and initiatives including D&AD, The Valuable 500, the RSA Decolonizing panel, and the Global Disability Innovation Hub at London’s Olympic Park. His first solo book, ‘Creative Leadership: Born from Design’ launched in March 2022 and is available on Amazon and from publisher Lund Humphries.

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Amit Ratna Bajracharya.

Managing Director, Certified Prosthetist Orthotist Limb Care Nepal Pvt . Ltd

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Amit is the founder and president of the Prosthetic Orthotics Society of Nepal and the chairman of the National Association of Service Providers in Physical Rehabilitation. He is also the national consultant to WHO for the National Standard on Assistive Technology, the TAP Training Program, and the Operational Guideline of the Priority Assistive Product List.

Ganga smiling at the camera

Ganga Gurung

Occupational Therapist

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Ganga Gurung is an occupational therapist working with children with disabilities for almost five years in Nepal. The lack of therapeutic equipment and resources for the children she worked with inspired her to establish a company, Bloom Park, two years ago, which imports as well as develops physical, sensory, communication, cognitive assistive products locally for children in Nepal. She is dedicated to promotion and advocacy of occupational therapy in Nepal as the secretary for Association of Nepal Occupational Therapists(ANOT)

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Prof. Mufunanji Magalasi.

Associate Professor of drama and development communication at the University of Malawi.

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Mufunanji Magalasi is an Associate Professor of drama and development communication at the University of Malawi. He has been a visiting scholar at Cornell, Leeds, Dar es Salaam and Eduardo Mondlane Universities and has worked on IDRC fish and value chain projects; a Canadian International Development Aid food security and nutrition, and European Union Horizon 2020 Innov Africa project. For his Drama and Film (Hon.) and MA degrees, he attended Wits University in South Africa, and did his PhD on split-site at University of Malawi and the University of West of England. Author of Stage Drama in Independent Malawi (University of Malawi, 2012), and numerous peer-reviewed articles in Drama, Development Communication and Sports and Communication, he is the Co-Principal Investigator (Malawi) of Parasport Against Stigma. His research interests lie in the impact of grassroots involvement on sustainable solutions for their own development through communication channels they access.

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Jennifer Wong

Project Manager for Para Sport Against Stigma

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Jennifer Wong, a dedicated advocate for sports-based equity, diversity, and inclusion, possesses a 15+ year global portfolio. Her expertise lies in strategic project design, overseeing impactful initiatives targeting stigma reduction, inclusivity, and gender equality. She's orchestrated successful ventures supported by philanthropy, corporations, and public funds. Currently Jennie is a project manager at Loughborough University London where she leads Para Sport Against Stigma and chairs the Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Committee. Previously she’s held roles with the International Paralympic Committee, International Council for Sport Science and Physical Education, and Commonwealth Games Canada. She holds an Excecutive MBA, a Master's in Adaptive Physical Activity and is a trustee of the Active Pregnancy Foundation.

Samuel on a wheelchair

Samuel Nakhozwe Nkhoma

I’mPOSSIBLE Educator/Para athlete/Laweyer

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Samuel Nakhozwe Nkhoma, grew up in Paris and spent his formative years at the British School Of Paris, where he demonstrated remarkable prowess in various sports. Football, in particular, became his forte as he assumed the role of number 10 on the field. He later pursued a degree in Law at the University Of South Africa. Throughout his career, Samuel has worked with prestigious organizations, including the juciary in Malawi and Creysole Derson and Associate. Presently, he is a valued member of Adrian and Company in Malawi. A life-altering event changed the course of his life when Samuel sustained a spinal injury,transforming him into a wheelchair basketball player. He also ventured into Para Powerlifting. Samuel's commitment to sports and disability advocacy extends to his role as the para athlete representative for Malawi. Furthermore, he serves as an I'mPOSSIBLE educator in the PSAS project, dedicating his time to the community by training community empowernment by training community leaders and teachers on inclusive physical education.

Sheila Cleo Mogalo

Sheila Cleo Mogalo, is a sport development consultant with close to a decade of experience, having worked with a diverse array of sport development and sport for development organizations. She currently serves as a Project Management Consultant for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), overseeing the 'Para Sports Against Stigma (PSAS)' project. She is equally a member of an Expert Advisory Team for Para Badminton Development at the Badminton World Federation (BWF). Beyond her consultancy roles, Ms. Cleo's expertise extends to sport event operations, having served as Operations Coordinator for the T20 Cricket Women's World Cup 2023 South Africa. In previous separate tenures she worked as the Grants Programme Coordinator for the International Paralympic Committee and the United Nations Office on Sports for Development and Peace (UNOSDP). Her passion for sports stems from her own athletic background, having played basketball. She holds degrees in International Development with a specialized focus on Poverty, Conflict, and Reconstruction, as well as International Relations.