Equal Access to Education for People with Disabilities - Panelist Bios
New technology and increased connectivity opens many possibilities in schools for persons with disabilities and provides many opportunities for them to be included in mainstream educational activities. What innovative projects and programs have been implemented that have allowed disabled persons to integrate more fully into the classroom? What obstacles remain and how can they be overcome?
Judith Heumann is an internationally recognized leader in the disability community and a lifelong civil rights advocate for disadvantaged people. She has been appointed Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State. She previously served as the Director for the Department on Disability Services for the District of Columbia, where she was responsible for the Developmental Disability Administration and the Rehabilitation Services Administration.
From June 2002- 2006, Judith E. Heumann served as the World Bank's first Adviser on Disability and Development. In this position, Heumann led the World Bank's disability work to expand the Bank’s knowledge and capability to work with governments and civil society on including disability in the Bank discussions with client countries; its country-based analytical work; and support for improving policies, programs, and projects that allow disabled people around the world to live and work in the economic and social mainstream of their communities. She was Lead Consultant to the Global Partnership for Disability and Development.
From 1993 to 2001, Heumann served in the Clinton Administration as the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the Department of Education. Heumann was responsible for the implementation of legislation at the national level for programs in special education, disability research, vocational rehabilitation and independent living, serving more than 8 million youth and adults with disabilities.
For more than 30 years, Heumann has been involved on the international front working with disabled people’s organizations and governments around the world to advance the human rights of disabled people. She represented Education Secretary, Richard Riley, at the 1995 International Congress on Disability in Mexico City. She was a US delegate to the Fourth United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. She has been active with Disabled Peoples’ International, Rehabilitation International and numerous Independent Living Centers throughout the world. She co-founded the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley California and the World Institute on Disability in Oakland California.
Heumann graduated from Long Island University in 1969 and received her Masters in Public Health from the University of California at Berkeley in 1975. She has received numerous awards including being the first recipient of the Henry B. Betts Award in recognition of efforts to significantly improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. She has received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Long Island University in Brooklyn, an Honorary Doctorate of Public Administration from the University of Illinois, Champaign, and an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from the University of Toledo.
Dr. Derrick L. Cogburn is Associate Professor in the School of International Service at American University and Executive Director of COTELCO: The Collaboration Laboratory and its Institute on Disability and Public Policy. He is Editor of the Palgrave Macmillan book series Information Technology and Global Governance, and serves on editorial boards for Journal of Information Technology and Politics, Review of Policy Research, and Journal of Political Science Education. He is former Chair of the Review Panel for the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Diplomacy, Security and Development, Science Technology Policy Fellowships, and current member of the AAAS Big Data and Analytics Fellowship Committee. He is also a member of the High-Level Panel of Advisors for the UN Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development. Dr. Cogburn has been Principal Investigator on grants from the National Science Foundation and the Committee of Visitors for the Office of Cyberinfrastructure. At Syracuse University, he was faculty in the School of Information Studies and Senior Research Associate in the Moynihan Institute at the Maxwell School. He is past president of the Information, Technology, and Politics section of the American Political Science Association and of the International Communication section of the International Studies Association. He served as Executive Director of the Global Information Infrastructure Commission-Africa and Vice Chair of the Global Internet Governance Academic Network. He holds a PhD in political science from Howard University, where he was a W.K. Kellogg doctoral fellow at the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center.
Ben Esner is the Director of the Center for K12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Education at Polytechnic Institute of New York University, which designs and builds programs dedicated to making meaningful educational opportunity available to a broad range of students, by engaging NYU-Poly faculty and graduate students and bringing their STEM expertise and research interests into classrooms and other learning environments. Mr. Esner is a co-Principal Investigator on the University’s National Science Foundation GK-12 grant, and leads several other STEM education initiatives, including the Science of Smart Cities, Creativity in Engineering, Science and Technology (CrEST), and Applied Research Innovations in Science and Engineering (ARISE) programs.
Prior to joining NYU-Poly, Mr. Esner held the post of Senior Vice President for Programs at Brooklyn Community Foundation, where he oversaw and ran competitive grant programs disbursing $5 million a year, seeking to address a broad range of educational and social issues. With over 25 years of professional experience including roles in the public, private and not-for-profit arenas, Mr. Esner is a founding and current Trustee of four public charter schools serving the communities of Bedford Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Ocean Hill and Canarsie in Brooklyn. He also serves as Vice Chair and Secretary of the Board of Trustees of Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation.
Laura Matz is the Director of International Marketing and Sales for Perkins Products, a division of Perkins School for the Blind, which sells assistive technology devices all over the world. Her work includes branding development of new products, building sales and distribution teams around the world, and creating awareness of the need for education and assistive technology for individuals who are visually impaired.
During her 6 years at Perkins she has helped to introduce several new assistive technology products including most recently, the Perkins SMART Brailler™. In addition, she built the infrastructure and manages theKilimanjaro Blind Trust
organization which works with partners in Africa to ‘unlock literacy for life’ by providing Perkins Braillers to visually impaired students.
Prior to joining Perkins in 2007, Laura worked in the private sector at the executive level, in marketing, market research and market due diligence for private equity firms.
Laura has a BA from Tufts University and an MBA from Boston University.
After a career in sales and leadership within two leading international augmentative communication companies, Todd Metzler is currently applying his backgrounds in Interactive Multimedia Design and Anatomy and Physiology to help the new assistive technology program in DC Public Schools take flight. A self-professed tinkerer and developer, Todd also lends a hand to several emerging software projects which focus on increasing independence and self-advocacy with folks of varying abilities. He is driven by the idea of a seamless integration of people and technology to improve life and livelihood.