Dr Rachel Hewett and Professor Graeme Douglas are based at the Vision Impairment Centre for Teaching and Research, University of Birmingham. The centre was established in 2001 with the underlying belief that 'through education, through research, and through access to appropriate resources, the barriers to learning and participation that may be experienced by people with vision impairment can be better understood and reduced'. Rachel and Graeme will highlight the key findings which have emerged through the Longitudinal Transitions Study, which they have led together since 2010.
Elin Williams is visually impaired and one of the participants from the longitudinal study. She now works for LOOK UK, a small national charity empowering visually impaired young people and their families to thrive through a tailored peer-mentoring service and transformational events www.look-uk.org. In her talk, Elin will share her reflections on her personal experiences of transitioning through mainstream to specialist school, then to university and on to employment, and on participating in the longitudinal study. She will also share insight into the most common challenges around transition for VI young people that emerge through the LOOK Mentoring Project, and some ideas on how voluntary sector organisations can support specialist services.
Geena Vabulas is Policy Manager for Assistive Technology at the cross-party think tank Policy Connect, which provides the secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology. She also works as a technologist on the Nuvoic project, which aims to improve access to voice recognition technologies for people with dysarthric or non-standard speech.
Geena is concerned with how technology can both enable and disable people, with a particular interest in neurodiversity. She received her Master's (distinction) in Education and Technology from the IOE at UCL, where her research focused on the remote design of extended realities (XR) with neurodivergent adults. In this presentation, Geena will provide an overview of the disability employment policy landscape and share details from Policy Connect’s soon-to-be-published commission on Assistive Technology and Transitions into Employment. The commission, co-Chaired by Lilian Greenwood MP (Labour) and Lord Shinkwin (Conservative), examines the challenging intersection of disability, technology, employers, education and training providers, and government. The report makes recommendations for how we as a society can best take advantage of technology to break down barriers to employment, and will be available to read in full in early July.