Keynote Speakers

Prof. Theresa Lorenzo

Prof. Theresa Lorenzo

Head of Division Programme Convenor for Disabity Studies Doctoral Programme Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Faculty of Health Sciences University of Cape Town South Africa

Title:  Finding the balance: Researchers’ contributions to global efforts to improve the lives of people with a disability.

Prof Theresa Lorenzo is Programme Convenor for Doctor of Philosophy in Disability Studies Programme at the Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town. She holds a PhD in Public Health from UCT, with a thesis titled “We don’t see ourselves as different: A web of possibilities for disabled women for social and economic inclusion”. She also holds an MSc in Community Disability Studies from the University of London, a Higher Diploma for Educators of Adults from the University of Witwatersrand, and a BSc in Occupational Therapy from the same institution.

Prof Lorenzo’s expertise and teaching focus is on community-based disability-inclusive development with specific focus on youth, women, and monitoring disability inclusion and social change. Her research focus areas include Disabled Youth Enabling Sustainable Livelihoods (DYESL) particularly in rural communities, and Disability Inclusion In Higher Education. She has a specific interest in participatory action research and mixed methods.

Air Vice Marshal (Dr) L R Jayaweera

Air Vice Marshal (Dr) L R Jayaweera

VSV, USP, MBBS (SL), Msc (D&SS), Dip Av Med (USA), psc

Air Vice Marshal Lalith Rukman Jayaweera had his primary education from the St Aloysius College, Galle and secondary education at Richmond College, Galle. He is a graduate of Faculty of Medicine, University of Ruhuna.

Air Vice Marshal Lalith Jayaweera joined SLAF on 03rd April 1994. He has been awarded with Vishishta Seva Vibhushanaya, Uththama Seva Padakkkama, Videsha Seva Padakkama, Sri Lanka Air Force 50th Anniversary Medal, Sri Lanka Armed Forces Long Services Medal 1968, Sri Lanka Armed Forces Long Services Medal 1979, Sevabhimani Padakkama, Sewa Padakkama, 50th Independence Anniversary Commemoration Medal-1998, 75th Independence Anniversary Commemoration Medal, East Humanitarian Operations Medal, North Humanitarian Operations Medal, North & East operation Medal, Purna Bumi Padakkama, Riviresa Campaign Service Medal and United Nations Services Medal (Haiti) – MINUSTAH.

Air Vice Marshal Lalith Jayaweera has served as the Senior Staff Officer at Directorate of Health Services, Commanding Officer of the Sri Lanka Air Force Hospital Katunayaka and Sri Lanka Air Force Hospital Ratmalana, and as Station Medical Officer of Colombo, Vavuniya, Chinabay, Palaly and Hingurakgoda SLAF Stations.

Air Vice Marshal Lalith Jayaweera has specialized in Aviation Medicine having followed the Primary Aviation Medicine Course and Aviation Psychiatry course at Institute of Aerospace Medicine at Bangalore, India and Diploma in Aerospace Medicine Course and Aircraft Accident Investigation course in Texas, USA. Air Vice Marshal Lalith Jayaweera possess in MSc (D& SS) from Kotalawala Defence University and he is a graduate of Defence Services and Staff College, Batalanda. He was the President of Sri Lanka College of Military Medicine and the National delegate of International Committee of Military Medicine in 2018. He is a visiting lecturer in Medical faculty of Kothalawala Defence University and also serves as a Civil Aviation Medical Examiner of Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka.


Prof. Wesam B. Darawsheh

Prof. Wesam B. Darawsheh

The school of rehabilitation sciences
The University of Jordan

Title:  Community Based Rehabilitation: The keyword and the key action in developing countries.

Wesam B. Darawsheh is is a full professor at the school of rehabilitation sciences at the University of Jordan, and a qualified occupational therapist with professional experience in the UK, USA and Jordan. She is part of the 2018-2019 cohort to receive the Fulbright Visiting Scholar (Postdoctoral Research) Award, and a recipient of the 2020 Cordelia Myers best article award by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). She has a particular interest in contemporary issues such as technology, displacement, refugeeism, and cultures and their effect on human performance, community development, and occupational therapy practice and education. Prof. Darawsheh has also an interest in research about professional identity, topics related to disability, Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR), occupational health in dysphagia and occupational voice disorders.

Professor. Luc de Witte

Prof. Luc de Witte

Research Group Technology for Healthcare
Centre of Expertise Health Innovation
The Hague University of Applied Sciences

Title:  Living with functional limitations in a technologizing world; challenges, opportunities and threats

Prof. Luc de Witte is currently president of the Global Alliance of Assistive Technology Organizations (GAATO). He works as a professor of Technology for Healthcare at The Hague University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Earlier he worked as a professor at the University of Sheffield in the UK, and at Maastricht University and Zuyd University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Prof. Luc trained as a Medical Doctor but has always worked on practice-oriented research in the field of rehabilitation and long-term care, including elderly care, care for people with mental or physical disabilities and care for people with chronic diseases. He has been active in the field of assistive technology for more than 25 years, co-authored more than 300 research papers and supervised more than 35 PhD students in different countries.

Plenary Speakers

Abigail O. Akande, Ph.D., CRC

Abigail O. Akande, Ph.D., CRC

Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation & Human Services The Pennsylvania State University - Abington College USA

Title: "The academic study of rehabilitation: Prioritizing university curriculum for the preparation of practitioners in the international field"

Dr. Akande will discuss the disparities in availability between post-secondary training programs in community-based rehabilitation disciplines and the plethora of medical training programs in universities. Social, cultural, political, and bureaucratical barriers will be discussed, as well as some foundational principles of rehabilitation program development. 

Assistant Professor Abigail O. Akande is a qualitative researcher with a Ph.D. in Rehabilitation from the University of Arizona, an MS in Rehabilitation Counseling from Boston University, and a BA in Child Development from Tufts University. Her research interests include opioid use disorder among immigrants, vocational rehabilitation for immigrant women with disabilities, women with disabilities in under-resourced countries, disability policy, and reproductive justice for people with disabilities.

Dr. Akande is known for her expertise in narrative interviewing, case study, and grounded theory approaches. In addition to her research, she also focuses on curriculum development and incorporates compassion cultivation through experiential learning, cultural humility, advocacy through policy engagement, and interdisciplinary collaboration through virtual international exchange in her approach.

As a teacher, Dr. Akande teaches courses such as Medical Aspects of Disability, Intro to Rehab Services, Intro to Disability Culture, Counseling Techniques, Rehabilitation Foundations, and Cross-Cultural Counseling. Her contributions to teaching have earned her awards such as the Academy for Teaching and Learning Excellence’s Teaching Fellow Award and Distinguished Teaching Fellow Medallion at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, as well as membership in the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Mandeep Singh

Dr. Mandeep Singh

Assistant Professor in Directorate of Sports,
University of Jammu,
UT of J&K

Dr. Mandeep Singh is an accomplished scholar and prominent figure in the field of sports and physical education. With a passion for research and a dedication to promoting excellence in the education sector, he has made significant contributions to academia and sports technology. Here is a brief overview of his achievements and expertise: Dr. Singh currently serves as an Assistant Professor in the Directorate of Sports at the University of Jammu, UT of Jammu & Kashmir. With an illustrious career spanning over several years, he has held key positions in esteemed educational institutions. His primary areas of interest lie in Sports Biomechanics and Research Methods, with proficiency in using IBM SPSS for data analysis. Dr. Singh’s commitment to innovation is evident through the numerous patents he has filed, covering areas such as a Foot Placement Training Device and a Self-Learning Based Yoga Pose Assessment System, among others. He has also received a patent for A Smart System to Control and Monitor Hypersonic Environment and a Method Thereof. Dr. Singh’s scholarly pursuits have been recognized by various funding bodies, leading to the approval of research projects. Notably, his work on “Present Status and Future Prospects of Checking Psychosocial Factors Promoting Doping in Adolescence” has garnered significant attention and funding from the Department of Sports, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India. In addition to his research endeavors, Dr. Singh has been invited as a speaker by prestigious universities and organizations, both nationally and internationally. He has shared his expertise in conferences and seminars, contributing to the development of the field of sports and physical education. Apart from being an accomplished researcher and educator, Dr. Singh has excelled in sports and NCC activities. He has participated in various basketball competitions at the national level and earned accolades for his exemplary service in the NCC, including being a Platoon Commander in the Republic Day Parade. With a strong focus on continuous learning and professional growth, Dr. Singh has pursued various additional courses, including Anti-Doping, SPSS usage, Yoga, and Weight Loss Training. His passion for fitness and health extends to pursuing a course in ISSN-USA Fitness Training from the United States. As a testament to his leadership and mentoring abilities, Dr. Singh has successfully co-guided three Ph.D. research scholars to completion, contributing to the development of future researchers in the field. Furthermore, Dr. Singh has organized significant events as the Organizing Secretary, including International and National Seminars, Workshops, and an esteemed International Seminar on Empowering Society Through Yog Education & Olympic Values. Dr. Mandeep Singh’s prolific academic journey includes authoring 13 books and publishing 70 research papers, showcasing his commitment to advancing knowledge in sports and physical education. His dedication to enhancing the field of sports, education, and research has earned him admiration and respect from his peers and students alike. With a multifaceted skill set and a relentless pursuit of excellence, Dr. Singh continues to be an influential figure in the realm of sports and academia.

Guest Speaker

Ms. Isabel Mavrides-Calderon

Ms. Isabel Mavrides-Calderon

Disability Justice Activist, ACLU Organizer,
Teen Vogue 21 Under 21, Public Speaker
New York, United States

Title: "Nothing About Us Without Us: The Importance of Centering Disabled Student Voices In Educational Policy Decisions"

Isabel Mavrides-Calderon is an 18-year-old Intersectional Disability Justice activist and organizer. She focuses her work on disability policy, accessibility and education. She has organized protests across the country and internationally. Most notably, she organized a series of successful protests that helped take down a Supreme Court case that threatened to gut the Americans with Disabilities Act. Additionally, Mavrides-Calderon has worked as an accessibility consultant for multiple think tanks, and protests such as the National Australian Climate Strike. She has hosted multiple conferences and events with the ACLU. She is currently hosting a monthly ACLU webinar series called “Educating for Access” dedicated to breaking down disability history and policy. Within the educational policy space, she helped lead a successful campaign, and testified to city council on the importance of keeping remote options in NYC public schools in 2021. She has published papers for The National Association for the Education of Young Children on teaching young children about disability. Isabel has given guest lectures at universities across the country on educating disabled students. Isabel has won multiple awards for her work, most recently she was named one of Teen Vogue 21 under 21 Revolutionary Youth.

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