NYC Conference

Art Beyond Sight: Multimodal Approaches to Learning Conference

Speaker Biographies


Maria-José Anía is a journalist and translator with much experience in management and communication within the field of accessibility and cultural tourism. In 2005, Anía and Mònica Surís, started ComAccess, a company providing cultural accessibility consultancy and services. Living in Barcelona, their original aim was to make the monuments of Gaudí accessible to all, especially those with sensory impairments. Four years later, they have adapted exhibits that range from Rembrandt to Malevich, and include etching, painting, sculpture, photography and music. They have also organized conferences, tours, theatre plays and training sessions. Their clients include Barcelona Turisme, Fundació Joan Miró, La Pedrera-Obra Social Caixa Catalunya, Diputació Barcelona-Àrea de Cultura and ONCE.


Elisabeth Salzhauer Axel is the Executive Director of Art Beyond Sight (ABS), a non-profit organization that she founded in 1987. While leading ABS, Axel also served for 15 years as Senior Lecturer and Curriculum Developer at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She is the Editor-in-Chief of ABS’s Art History Through Touch and Sound, a unique multi-sensory art encyclopedia. ABS’s methodology and expertise became the foundation for another publication: Art Beyond Sight: A Resource Guide to Art, Creativity, and Visual Impairment that Axel co-edited. Considered authoritative for professionals in this field, it was co-published with the American Foundation for the Blind.  Axel has trained staff in art education and accessibility issues at many varied institutions. She has served on the Board of Directors of United Jewish Appeal Leadership Development Division, the Associated Blind, and the Mayor’s Office for the Handicapped (now the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities).


Tim Barringer is Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art at Yale University. His books include Reading the Pre-Raphaelites (1998) and Men at Work: Art and Labour in Victorian Britain (2005), and he is co-editor of Colonialism and the Object and Art and the British Empire. He has curated many exhibitions including American Sublime (Tate, 2002, with Andrew Wilton), Art and Music in Britain: Four Encounters (Yale Center for British Art, 2006, with Ellie Hughes), Opulence and Anxiety: Landscape Paintings from the Royal Academy (Compton Verney, 2007), and Art and Emancipation in Jamaica (Yale, 2007, with Gillian Forrester and Barbaro Martinez-Ruiz). His essay on the multi-sensory effects of imperial culture, "Sonic Spectacles of Empire: The Audio-Visual Nexus, Delhi-London, 1911-12," appeared in E. Edwards, et al, eds., Sensible Objects: Material Culture, the Senses, Colonialism, Museums (2006).


Lawrence Becker serves as the Sherman Fairchild Conservator in Charge of the Objects Conservation Department at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This department oversees the conservation of objects, as well as investigative research related to mechanisms of deterioration, preservation treatments, and historical technology.

Becker began his Metropolitan Museum career as a Conservation Assistant in 1980. In 1990 he joined the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts as Conservator of Objects and went on to be Chief Conservator at the Worcester Art Museum before returning to the Metropolitan in 2003. Becker has an AB and JD from Columbia University, and an MA in History of Art and Archaeology with a Diploma in Conservation from New York University's Institute of Fine Arts.


John Bramblitt is a blind artist living in Denton, Texas.  His art has been sold in over twenty countries, and he has appeared internationally in print, TV and radio. His work has received much recognition including the “Most Inspirational Video of 2008” from YouTube, and three Presidential Service Awards for his innovative art workshops. While art had always been an important part of Bramblitt’s life, it was not until he lost his sight that he began to paint. Bramblitt says, “Art is not only the way that I express myself, but it is also the way through which I see the world.” 


Marie Clapot is an Educator at the Art Beyond Sight Institute. She has extensive experience in museum education and accessibility. She completed research and development projects as a graduate assistant at the Adaptive Technology Center, Bloomington, IN. While working as Access Coordinator at the Indiana University Art Museum, she completed an accessibility assessment and implemented a program for people with vision loss. She has also worked in the Access Coordination office of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Clapot holds an MA in Art Education from Indiana University, an MA in Heritage Development from Université de Bretagne Occidentale (UBO), Quimper (France) and an MA in Heritage Development from UBO (Brest).


Constance Classen is a lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology,  and Loyola International College, Concordia University, Montreal. She is the author of numerous essays and books on the cultural life of the senses, including The Color of Angels: Cosmology, Gender and the Aesthetic Imagination (Routledge, 1998), Worlds of Sense: Exploring the Senses in History and across Cultures (Routledge, 1993), and Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell (Routledge, 1994, co-authored with David Howes and Anthony Synnott). In Color of Angels she explored the aesthetic life of the blind and its implications for Western ideologies of art. Classen is also the editor of The Book of Touch, a collection of essays on the history, sociology and anthropology of touch published in 2005 by Berg of Oxford.


Orna Cohen benefited from a broad and varied educational palette (psychology, educational science and dramatic arts). Cohen went on to design and implement over 10,000 square meters of exhibition space at the Cité des Sciences et de l'industrie in Paris. She is in her element designing interactive systems that immerse visitors in the exhibition experience and help enhance their understanding of the world around them. In recent years, Cohen has focused on society-related themes by developing experiments and workshops that challenge visitors to reflect on themselves and provide them with a learning opportunity to improve the quality of their human interactions. Her goal is to create unique experiences that raise awareness about human diversity. In 2004, Cohen was made a "Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres" by the French government. She is curator and COO of Dialogue Social Enterprise, GmbH Germany


Mary Pat Coyle is an artist and educator currently teaching middle school art in Philadelphia. She earned her Master’s degree in Art Education in May 2008 from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, with a thesis titled: The Influence of Touch on Concept Development in Art Education for Blind and Visually Impaired Students. Her research was based on her two year experience teaching art to the students of St. Lucy Day School for Children with Visual Impairments. Additionally, Coyle was the co-director of TOUCH, an Art Experience for the Senses, a unique program that invited touch in a gallery setting. Coyle is an advocate for the inclusion of visual arts in education, and for all students to participate in the visual arts regardless of their perceived abilities. To that end, she continues her research on the influence of touch on learning, particularly through the visual arts.


Mădălina Diaconu completed studies in philosophy at the University of Bucharest/Romania (PhD, 1996) and Vienna/Austria (PhD, 1998; Habilitation, 2006) and is Dozentin for philosophy at the University of Vienna. She has taught and conducted research at several and is currently managing an interuniversity research project on haptic and olfactory design in Vienna. Her publications include books on the aesthetics of touch, smell, and taste (2005; 2007), Martin Heidegger as model for a relational aesthetics(2000), Søren Kierkegaard (1996), the ontology of art in the light of the principle of identity (2000), and travel reports on Vienna and Bucharest (2007). Her current fields of interest refer to issues of aesthetics, environmental perception, sensory design, the philosophy of architecture and urban studies.


A sculptor, painter, and papermaker, Rosalyn Driscoll has for many years focused on making sculptures that explore the sense of touch. She is developing the theory and practice of aesthetic touch through making and exhibiting tactile sculptures, documenting viewer reactions, and exchanging information with the world-wide community of scientists and engineers researching touch. She is writing a book, By the Light of the Body: Touch in the Visual Arts, to establish a theoretical and practical foundation for the inclusion of touch in art. Her work has been exhibited in the U.S., Europe and Japan and received awards and fellowships from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, New England Foundation for the Arts, and Massachusetts Cultural Council. See


Sandra Eastwood coordinates the Meaningful Access Program (MAP) at the Iziko South African National Gallery. She has, since 1964, worked in galleries and museums in Southern Africa as curator and educator, concentrating on extending art appreciation through multi sensory, cross disciplinary programs for visitors living with disabilities, specializing in approaches for  those who are blind. Eastwood has also been involved in outreach projects and her work has been recognized through awards from both the art and the blind communities. 


Valerie Fletcher is Executive Director of the Institute for Human Centered Design, an international non-profit organization committed to advancing the role of design in expanding opportunity and enhancing experience for people of all ages and abilities through excellence in design. Fletcher writes and lectures internationally. She is a Special Advisor to TOTO Ltd. and to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Fletcher has a master degree in ethics and public policy from Harvard University. The Boston Society of Architects awarded her the Women in Design award in 2005. She’s a Trustee of the Boston Architectural College.

Rebecca Fuller is the Principal/Owner of RAF Models, Inc. She has an MFA in sculpture, and over 30 years of experience producing high quality museum exhibits and models, particularly for the blind and low vision audience. Fuller has designed and fabricated tactile projects for museums and visitor centers across the United States and is currently conducting research to gather data indicating which textures and forms best convey the content of an exhibit to the blind or low vision visitor. Fuller has led workshops and given lectures on the use of tactile exhibits at conferences on exhibits, universal design and assistive technology in the U.S., Europe and Brazil.


In November 2002, Barry Ginley was appointed as Disability and Access Officer at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The role is varied, dealing with all aspects of the Museum’s work, including developing policies and strategy, design of galleries, staff training, and managing talks programs. Prior to this position, Ginley was a consultant to the Royal National Institute of the Blind and several property service companies.

Since 1994, after an eye operation went wrong, Ginley has been visually impaired. In 2001 he studied part-time at the University of Reading and has completed the MSc in Inclusive Environments Design and Management. As the Head of Disability and Social Inclusion at the V&A, Ginley wishes to improve access for all visitors to the collection. 


Lou Giansante is a Peabody-award-winning multimedia producer, writer and voice talent of broadcast and internet media. He has created original audio and video for Art Beyond Sight since its inception in 1987. He also consults, writes, and produces for such clients as the New York Historical Society, Acoustiguide, Inc., and VSAarts. His specialties are writing museum audio tours for both sighted and blind, writing verbal description of artworks, and writing for children. He is happiest when all three specialties coincide.  Currently he’s producing two model project web sites for ABS: American Art ( and New York Beyond Sight ( His web site is


Santiago González D’Ambrosio studied Art History at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, with a concentration in contemporary art. Since 2005 González D’Ambrosio has been the Access Coordinator at the Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid, Spain, where he has developed programs for visually impaired people, individuals with cognitive disabilities and for the deaf community. The Reina Sofía Museum offers touch tours, tactile pictures and descriptive tours, among other initiatives for visitors with visual impairments. González D’Ambrosio spent a month in 2008 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he had the chance to connect with the access community of New York City, and with museum staff in different East coast cities.


Hannah Goodwin is the Manager of Accessibility at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She likes working with people a lot, which is one of the wonderful things about this job! The MFA’s accessibility and options for people who are blind or have low vision continue to expand steadily. Hannah has presented at American Association of Museum and New England Museum Association conferences, as well as at the LEAD conference and Art Beyond Sight, and for local organizations and networks. Goodwin received the Educator of the Year/Greater Boston Arc Award in 2002 and the 2007 LEAD award, in conjunction with Elly Rubin. Her previous experience includes ten years as an art educator for children/teens with disabilities. She really likes to make things and enjoys a good ice cream cone.


Dan Hedges is Project Writer at ESI Design, the Manhattan-based experiential design firm. With a background that spans print, television, film, radio, and the web, he’s an active member of ESI’s Accessibility Design Group, and part of a multi-discipline design team that creates interactive visitor experiences for cultural and educational institutions nationwide. Independently, he also writes museum text, audio, and multimedia content, and has contributed to major exhibitions at the Field Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the New York Botanical Garden, the Brooklyn Museum, the Connecticut Science Center, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, among many others.


Anita Hollander has worked throughout Europe and America, premiering new works at Carnegie Hall, Playwrights Horizons, London’s West End and NY Shakespeare Festival. She is a Helen Hayes Award nominee for Outstanding Lead Musical Actress. Her critically-acclaimed original solo musical Still Standing was presented at The White House and Off-Broadway. Theatre Week Magazine awarded her Best Director of a Musical for The Goodbye Girl. This spring, Hollander appeared in Infinity Dance Theatre’s Body of Work (Joyce Theatre Soho), Nunsensations (Surflight Theatre), In Security (3LD Theatre), and the movie Handsome Harry (Tribeca Film Festival).  Hollander serves on the AFTRA National Board and is National Co-Chair of the tri-union I AM PWD campaign.(


Nitza Danieli Horner is a teaching artist and freelance educator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as at other nonprofit organizations. She is a resident artist at Columbia Hospital’s Oncology Pediatric clinic and a speaker for Friends' Health Connection. Horner leads a program titled Paint the Music, a multimedia program in which the audience creates original artwork inspired by live jazz.

Horner studied at the Art Teachers College in Ramat Hasharon, Israel. She worked with Palestinians and Isrealis in collaboration with author Robert Wolf to create the book Violence in the Holy Land (Free River Press, 2004) in which her work “10/14/1973” was published.


Busser Howell is an artist who resides in New York City. His most recent works involve large geometric forms based on quadrants of three-dimensional applications of paint heavily applied by hand to create monolithic images that become kinetic with the refraction of light on the highly textured surfaces. He has exhibited at the Morgan Museum in Lexington, Kentucky, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Museum of the Permian Basin in Texas. He is in the permanent collection of The New Britain Museum of American Art in Connecticut. Howell continues to paint and exhibit in Ohio, Florida, Texas, and New York. He is presently affiliated with the Phoenix Gallery in New York.


David Howes has a background in law and anthropology. He teaches in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal. His research interests range from the anthropology of law and the sociology of art to cross-cultural psychology and the role of the senses in contemporary marketing and design. Together with Anthony Synnott, he founded the Concordia Sensoria Research Team in 1988, dedicated to charting the varieties of sensory experience across cultures (see He is the author of Sensual Relations (2003) co-author (with Constance Classen and Anthony Synnott) of Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell (1994), and the editor of Cross-Cultural Consumption (1996), and Empire of the Senses (2004), among other works. His latest book (due out this October) is The Sixth Sense Reader.


Alison Jones is a UK artist who graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Camberwell College of Art in 1989, and an MA from Chelsea College of Art, London. Her first major exhibition was at the ICA in London. She has exhibited alongside Damien Hurst and Anish Kapoor. Alison has received several awards, including first prize in the, "Bayer Earth Art Prize," 1995. She was the subject of a TV documentary, Natural Born Talent.

Jones has worked as an artist, educator and consultant; her work has explored multi-sensory installations, but she is currently developing a series of sound interventions entitled, Art, Lies and Audiotapes, conceived during a residency in Vienna.


Alexis Palmer Karl received her BFA in painting at Cornell University in 1992, and her MFA in painting at the New York Academy of Art, Graduate School of Figurative Art in 1994. Karl is a painter, singer, writer and perfumer living in Brooklyn, New York.
Karl exhibits at Aequalis Gallery in Rome, Italy, and has recently shown her work at White Box Gallery in New York City. She is the creator of the niche fragrance line Scent by Alexis, and has just written her debut novel, a sci-fi urban fantasy, entitled This Dark Gift. Karl currently teaches painting at The Ashcan Studio School in New York City, and will be continuing her course titled “The Art of Perfume” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her website is


Georgina Kleege has been legally blind since the age of eleven.  She teaches disability studies and creative writing in the English department at the University of California, Berkeley. Her recent books include: Sight Unseen and Blind Rage, Letters to Helen Keller. 


Georgia Krantz is the Education Manager for Adult Interpretive Programs at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She also teaches graduate studies in the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at Tisch/NYU and lectures at the Museum of Modern Art. She launched Mind's Eye, the access program at the Guggenheim Museum, in March of 2008 and leads programs for partially sighted, blind and deaf visitors at MoMA. 


K. Venkatesh is an established painter, sculptor and muralist, consistently developing and exhibiting his works. Born in Bengaluru, Karnataka, India, he holds a diploma in Mechanical Engineering as well as in Fine Arts and Modeling. He is the Founder and Executive Director of Chandana Art Foundation International, a charitable organization devoted to the promotion and preservation of Indian art and cultural heritage.

Art Beyond Sight has recognized the Chandana Art Foundation International as a member of the Art Beyond Sight Collaborative – an international group of organizations that share the common goal of making art and visual culture accessible to all people, including children and adults with vision loss.


Steven Landau is president of Touch Graphics, Inc., a New York City company that carries out research leading to commercialization of innovative products for education and exhibits. The company's flagship product, the Talking Tactile Tablet, was recently awarded a Gold Medal in the IDEA Awards program, and Mr. Landau received the Louis Braille Touch of Genius Award from National Braille Press in 2007.  Landau received a BA in Art from Oberlin College, and a Master of Architecture from Harvard University. He has taught in architecture and product design programs at NYU, Parsons, University of Arizona and Harvard. 


Gordon Legge received a Bachelor's degree in Physics from MIT in 1971, and a Master's degree in Astronomy from Harvard in 1972. In 1976, he obtained his PhD in Experimental Psychology from Harvard. He then spent a postdoctoral year at the Physiological Laboratory, Cambridge University. In 1977, Legge joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota. He is now Chair of the Psychology Department at Minnesota, director of the Minnesota Laboratory for Low-Vision Research, and Distinguished McKnight University Professor of psychology and neuroscience.

Legge’s research deals with visual perception and cognition. Current projects focus on the roles of vision in reading, object recognition, and spatial navigation. In all of these areas, he has a special interest in the problems encountered by people with low vision.


PhD, Executive Director, Art Beyond Sight/ Art Beyond Sight Institute, is an art historian, and also serves as Assistant Professor at the New York Academy of Art. She received her PhD from the Humboldt Universitat in Berlin. Levent is a co-editor of Art Beyond Sight Resource Guide, a definitive resource on art, creativity, and visual impairment; the principal art historical advisor for ABS's Art History Through Touch and Sound multi-sensory encyclopedia; and the editor of the Handbook for Museums and Educators.

Levent has lectured on accessibility at museums and conferences around the world. She has trained docents and educators at many museums in New York City and across the country. She is one of the principal organizers of the Art Beyond Sight: Multimodal Approaches to Learning, Creativity, and Communication, an international conference that takes place every two year at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.


Katie Lyles Levy is the Accessibility Specialist in the Office for AccessAbility at the National Endowment for the Arts, an advocacy and technical assistance office that encourages and assists arts programming involving older adults, individuals with disabilities and people who reside in institutions. The Office for AccessAbility provides guidance and technical assistance to the Endowment's staff, panels and grantees concerning a wide variety of access issues. Recent interagency initiatives include the 2009 National Summit on Careers in the Arts for People with Disabilities, convened at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in partnership with nine federal agencies and private sector groups. Levy has a MA in Gerontology from the Medical College of Virginia at VCU and a BS in Sociology from the College of Charleston. 


Daniel Mason is an independent curator and writer based in New York. Upcoming projects include a book exhibition on Arab and Iranian photography for the International Center of Photography Library, and an exhibition and performance event for Mass MOCA on a work by John Cage and Merce Cunningham.

From 2007-2008, Mason was a Nancy Horton Bartels Scholar at the Yale University Art Gallery, and worked on the curatorial team for the exhibition What is a Line? Drawings from the Collection. From 2005-2006 he served as Director of the Piedmont Virginia College Art Gallery in Charlottesville, Virginia. Mason holds a BA in History of Art from Yale University. Mason is currently a Master’s Degree Candidate at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College.


Trish Maunder has an MA in Art Education from The University of the Arts, Philadelphia. She is the Creative Director of Stories Through Art, an art education organization that creates and presents a variety of programs and hands-on art making workshops for children and adults, including those with special needs, at schools, universities and museums. Maunder also writes and teaches for Faith Ringgold’s non-profit Anyone Can Fly Foundation, whose mission is to expand the art establishment's canon to include Great Masters of African American Art. In 2008 she co-created TOUCH, An Art Experience for the Senses, which is an exhibit and related workshops designed to promote the sense of touch in art for an all-inclusive audience.


Douglas McCulloh is curator of Sight Unseen: International Photography by Blind Photographers at UCR/California Museum of Photography. He is an honors graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara and holds an M.F.A. in photography and digital media from Claremont Graduate University. He has exhibited widely in the U.S., Europe, China, and Mexico. His fourth book, Dream Street, was published May, 2009 by Heyday Books, Berkeley. McCulloh has curated thirteen exhibitions of photography, including three for the California Museum of Photography, and three of his photographic projects have received funding from the California Council for the Humanities. In 2006, McCulloh was one of six artists who transformed an abandoned southern California F-18 jet hanger into the world’s largest camera to make the world’s largest photograph.


Rebecca McGinnis is the Museum Educator overseeing Access Coordination at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She and her Access colleagues at the Metropolitan have gained recognition internationally for their pioneering programs for visitors with disabilities. McGinnis is co-conevnor of the Art Beyond Sight conference (2005, 2007, 2009) and she co-chairs the New York City Museum Access Consortium (MAC). Much of her work focuses on access to information and interpreting art for people who are blind and partially sighted. She presents frequently at conferences internationally and has published many articles and chapters.

McGinnis has an MA in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and an MA in Museum Studies from Leicester University in the UK. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Cognitive Psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University, focusing on tactile perception, mental imagery, and visual impairment. 


Peter Meijer is a physicist with a background in simulation and modeling of highly nonlinear systems, in massively parallel video processing and in image enhancement. He received his MSc in Physics from Delft University of Technology in 1985, and his PhD from Eindhoven University of Technology in 1996 on the topic of artificial dynamic neural networks. He worked for many years at Philips Research in The Netherlands, and currently holds a senior research position at NXP Semiconductors.

In parallel with his work in the electronics industry, he invented and developed an image-to-sound conversion system now known as "The vOICe," aimed at the development of synthetic vision for the blind.           

Lotfi B. Merabet is Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and staff optometrist in the Department of Ophthalmology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA. As principal investigator at the Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation and clinical researcher with the Boston Retinal Implant Project, Merabet’s scientific interests focus on neuroplasticity and in particular, how the brain adjusts to the loss of sight and its relation to restoring functional vision and developing novel rehabilitative strategies for the blind.


Dr. Joshua Miele is an alumnus of the University of California at Berkeley where he received his BA in Physics and his PhD in Psychoacoustics. His involvement with the development of accessible technology began in the early nineties with outSPOKEN, an early screen reader for Macintosh computers. He is currently a Research Scientist at The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute's Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center. His research continues to involve the integration of inexpensive, mainstream technologies and the Internet to develop innovative approaches to information accessibility for blind and visually impaired people. His recent work has included research in the areas of tactile maps, audio/tactile graphics, auditory displays, and wayfinding technologies. Miele lives in Berkeley, California with his wife and two young children.


Since 1978, Alain Mikli has designed frames pursuing one goal: to free Man from a handicap, by giving style to a constraint, transforming a pair of spectacles into a beautiful, stylish and timeless item, far from short-lived trends.

Beyond designing eyewear, Mikli has long been advocating to make Society more accessible to the blind. Since 2001, he has been developing an innovative process to make visual arts accessible through tactile pictures. After photography, he now opens the door of museums to the blind audience, letting them touch tactile interpretations of modern and contemporary art master pieces in Centre Pompidou, Paris.


Edmund Mooney is a composer, sound designer and sound artist. His work has been presented at Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Museum, DTW and PS 122, among others. Recent works include sound design for “Body Maps” with Vision into Art at the Whitney Museum, and on Paola Prestini's Tzadic Records release of the same name, “Sound Box 1” with Andrea Williams and Jonny Farrow at Free 103’s Wave Farm and the 2008 Ear to the Earth Festival, and “Eros Thanatos” with installation artist Erika Harrsch at Fotofest in Houston, TX, at Galleria Leme in Sao Paolo, Brazil and The 5th Seoul International Media Art Biennale. He is a founding member of the New York Society for Acoustic Ecology. His work explores the ecstatic soundscape through temporal displacement and re-contextualization of naturally occurring sonic events in combination with digitally altered instruments.


Rodrigo Hübner Mendes began his work as an artist in 1991 in São Paulo, Brazil. In 1994, he founded the Rodrigo Mendes Institute, a nonprofit organization committed to reducing social exclusion in Brazil through art and education. Rodrigo worked at Accenture for four years. In 2004 he decided to dedicate his experience to the social sector, assuming the management of the Institute. He holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and master's degrees in Human Diversity Management from Getulio Vargas Foundation. He is a recipient of numerous awards. In 2008, the World Economic Forum recognized Mr. Mendes as a Young Global Leader, an honor bestowed “on the most distinguished 250 young leaders below the age of 41 from around the world.” Research interests include human rights, art, inclusive education and leadership.


Carlos Mourão Pereira was born in Lisbon. He graduated with a degree in architecture from the Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, and was awarded with the “Premio Comendador Joaquim Matias,” in 1997.

His career began in 1998. His projects have been published and presented in seminars and conferences, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art; in the world exhibition, in Saragossa, Portugal; and in the Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Center in Budapest. He taught the architecture at the University of Biera Interior in Covilha Studio, in Covilhã, between 2005 and 2006, and at Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon, from 2003 to 2008. He is completing his PhD Thesis in Architecture. In 2006 he became blind and maintains his career as an architect and continues to research and teach.


Bruce Odland — sonic thinker, composer, and sound artist — is known for his large scale, public space sound installations which transform city noise into harmony, real-time. 

In 2004, he and Sam Auinger (O+A) altered the harmonic mix of the World Financial Center Plaza using the moon, tides, harmonic tuning tubes, and cement loudspeakers ("Blue Moon"). For more than twenty years, they have changed the sonic character of public spaces around the world. 

Odland’s many collaborations include work with Laurie Anderson, Dan Graham, Andre Gregory, Wallace Shawn, Peter Sellars, Joanne Akailitis, Robert Woodruff, Tony Oursler, and Peter Erskine. His "Sounds from the Vaults,"  a playable orchestra of virtual instruments for the Field Museum in Chicago, won the Gold Muse Award from the Association of American Museums.


Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD, is the Director of the Center for Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation and Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. He holds appointments as Adjunct Professor in Psychiatry and Neurobiology at Boston University, and in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Faculty of Arts and Science at Harvard University. Currently, he is also the Associate Director of the Harvard-Thorndike General Clinical Research Center and council member of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping. Pascual-Leone is Board Certified in Neurology and Neurophysiology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, a member of many professional societies, and the recipient of several international honors and awards, including the Norman Geschwind Prize in Behavioral Neurology from the American Academy of Neurology. Pascual-Leone's major areas of research interest are the physiology of higher cognitive functions and the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders, with a focus on the dynamic modification of brain function across the lifespan (neural plasticity), and the possibility of neuromodulation by brain stimulation techniques.


Doris Prenn is an exhibition designer and head of prenn_punkt office for communication and design. Their focus is the development of exhibition design, urban and rural design and universal design for all people. They strive to make cultural heritage accessible and inclusive of people with different disabilities. To create accessibility for all, Prenn includes tactile elements, audio descriptions, Sign Language interpretation, and simple and legible text in her designs.


Camilla Ryhl holds a Masters and PhD degree (2003) in Architecture from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Her PhD "A House for the Senses" is a study on housing design for people with sensory disabilities.

She has continued specializing in sensory aspects of Universal Design as a Postdoctoral Fellow, researching and teaching in the Architecture Department at UC Berkeley (2003-2006), where she was also a Fulbright Scholar (2000-2001). She is currently a Senior Researcher at the Danish Building Research Institute, Aalborg University. She is a founding member of 'the Nordic Network on Architectural Research in Design-for-All', and she teaches universal design at numerous Scandinavian architecture schools.


Zeljka Salihagic has been the director of the Typhlological Museum since 2002. She began her career at the Museum in 1995 as a senior curator. She has an MA in special education and is currently working on her PhD at the University of Zagreb.

She was the project manager for the redesign of the Museum. For this project, the European Museum Forum named the Typhlological Museum a candidate for the European Museum of the Year Award for 2010.

She represented Croatia as a partner country in the project “Art for All” and has lectured at conferences in Vienna (2006) and Marburg (2007). She has co-curated several exhibitions, published articles and is a member of several associations.


Jane Samuels is the Access Manager for the British Museum where for the last six years she has advised all departments on issues of intellectual, sensory and physical access for disabled and underrepresented audiences. Her program also focuses on project innovation, the most recent example being her pioneering work in Pentonville Prison. On this subject she has published work, The British Museum in Pentonville Prison; Dismantling barriers through touch and handling: Touch in Museums, Berg, 2008.

Samuels has also held positions as the Widening Participation Manager for Ravensbourne College of Art and Design and as Director of Learning and Access for Turtle Key Arts, a London based charity specializing in arts initiatives for disabled and underrepresented audiences. Samuels has lectured for the Institute of Education, University College London where she also completed her MA in Museum and Galleries in Education.


Jaime Sánchez received an MA (1983), MSc (1984), and PhD (1985) from Columbia University, New York. He is Associate Professor of Human-Computer Interaction at the Department of Computer Science in the University of Chile. He has developed several interactive sound-based virtual environments for developing learning and cognition in blind children. Currently, he is working on audio-based mobile videogames to help blind learners to develop and rehearse navigation and problem solving skills in real settings. His research interests include audio and cognitive development in blind learners, usability evaluation methods, game-based learning, and mobile learning. He has also authored several books on learning with computers.

Richard Sandell is Director and Head of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. He has been awarded research fellowships at the Smithsonian Institution (2004/5) and the Humanities Research Center of the Australian National University (2008) to pursue his research interests which focus on museums and human rights and the social agency and responsibility of museums. He is the editor of Museums, Society, Inequality (2002), author of Museums, Prejudice and the Reframing of Difference (2007) and co-editor (with Robert R. Janes) of Museum Management and Marketing (2008), all published by Routledge.

His new book – co-edited with Jocelyn Dodd and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson – is entitled Re-Presenting Disability: activism and agency in the museum, and will be published by Routledge in December 2009.


Michael Luck Schneider works as a researcher, artist, and interaction designer, incorporating new technologies into interfaces and experience. He is currently working at ESI Design as an Interaction Designer and interactive systems specialist in emerging technology. He was a professor at New York City College of Technology in the Department of Entertainment Technology and teaches classes at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program in the area of Physical Computing and assistive technology. He has shown work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Australia and has had performances both in New York and South Korea. He has built and designed interactive exhibits for places such as The American Museum of Natural History, The National Building Museum, and The Staten Island Children’s museum He earned a bachelors degree from Pomona College and has a Master’s degree from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.


Anna Schuleit is a painter and installation artist who studied painting at the Rhode Island School of Design, and creative writing / book arts at Dartmouth College. Her visionary,­ site-specific works breathe new life into historic structures, forests, and seas. Employing such ephemeral elements, her powerful public works are designed to endure not as objects, but as vivid memories for those who experience them. Schuleit has been a frequent artist-in-residence and guest lecturer at institutions such as MIT, Harvard, Smith, Brown, and Bowdoin. She has also been the recipient of many awards, including a fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies and a fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation. A solo-show of her paintings and works on paper will be on exhibit at Coleman Burke Gallery in New York this Fall. For more information, see


Alice W. Schwarz has been at The Metropolitan Museum of Art since 1983. She began as a volunteer intern in the Division of Education while finishing her MS in Museum Education at Bank Street College of Education. In 1985 she accepted a full-time position at the Museum as Instructor, teaching all ages in all collections. Over the years Schwarz has been the program leader for Family Programs, Teacher Programs, the High School Apprenticeship Program, School Programs, and is currently Museum EducatorinCharge of Teen Programs, which comprises after-school, weekend, and holiday classes and events for children, ages eleven to eighteen. Although she continues to teach throughout the Met's encyclopedic collection, her greatest passion is pre-WWI American Art. She is married to a photographer, also a Met employee, and they have two sons. 

Glenda Sims is an accessibility consultant, judge and trainer for Knowbility, a non-profit organization whose mission is “to support the independence of children and adults with disabilities by promoting the use and improving the availability of accessibility information technology – barrier free IT.”
She is also the Web Accessibility Coordinator and Web Standards Evangelist for the University of Texas at Austin. She regularly serves as an IT consultant for the Blanton Museum of Art. She is co-manager of the Web Standards Project, a grassroots coalition fighting for standards which ensure simple, affordable access to web technologies for all.


Pawan Sinha is an associate professor of computational and visual neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. He received his undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi and his Masters and doctoral degrees from the Department of Computer Science at MIT.

Sinha’s research focuses on understanding how the human brain learns to recognize objects through visual experience and how objects are encoded in memory. The goal is not only to derive clues regarding the nature and development of high-level visual skills, but also to create better therapeutic routines to help children overcome visual impairments. One of Sinha’s recent initiatives focuses on the large population of blind children in India, merging scientific relevance with humanitarian benefit.


Dr. Heather J. L. Smith is Head of Access for All for the National Trust for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (the Trust). Prior to this, she worked as the Adviser on access for disabled people, following a role as a member of the visitor services team at Tatton Park, in the North West of England. In her current role, she is responsible for developing strategic direction in equality and diversity. Before working for the Trust, Smith lived in Scotland where she worked in a contemporary art center and completed her PhD on provisions in museums and art galleries for blind and partially sighted people.

From Manchester, England, Smith is a proud supporter of Manchester United football club and a keen follower of sport in general. She is particularly keen on horse-racing and is looking forward to the jump racing season!


One of the first audio describers, Joel Snyder began describing theater events and media in 1981. In addition to his ongoing work in these genres (Sesame Street, DVDs, and feature films), each year he develops audio described tours for major museums throughout the United States including the Smithsonian Institution, the Getty, the Albright-Knox, the National Aquarium, and several state museums and myriad National Park and Forest Service exhibit centers. He has introduced audio description/conducted audio description workshops in 30 states and D.C. and over 25 countries. Most recently, he trained describers in Brazil and presented papers on description in Italy and Spain. He serves as president of Audio Description Associates and Director of Audio Description Project, American Council of the Blind.


Dr. Mandayam Srinivasan is Director of the MIT Touch Lab and Senior Scientist in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT. His research over the past 25 years on the science and technology underlying information acquisition and object manipulation through touch has played a pivotal role in starting and establishing the multidisciplinary field of modern Haptics. He has been recognized worldwide as an authority on haptic computation, cognition, and communication in humans and modern machines such as computers and robots. He recently led his group to develop a haptic interface system that helps blind individuals learn about unknown spaces by using touch and feel to navigate through computer models of the spaces.


Megan Strickfaden is an assistant professor in the Department of Human Ecology and University of Alberta (Canada). She studied anthropology, people-centred design and sustainability, which she followed by working for 12 years as a design engineer with various design firms. Strickfaden obtained her PhD in Humanities and Social Sciences from Napier University (UK) and as a post-doctoral researcher she was engaged with two projects: the Sociocultural Capital of Design Educators at Grant MacEwan College (Canada) and Architectural design in Dialogue with dis-Ability (AIDA) at K.U.Leuven. Strickfaden’s current research continues to investigate sociocultural complexities within educational and professional design environments including designing with and for disability.


Mònica Surís, ComAccess, Barcelona, graduated in Arts at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra and has completed postgraduate studies in the field of heritage interpretation at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, both in Barcelona.
In 2005, she and Maria-José Anía started ComAccess, a company that provides cultural accessibility consultancy and services. Living in Barcelona, their original aim was to make the monuments of Gaudí accessible to all users, especially those with sensorial impairment. Four years later, they have been adapting exhibits that run from Rembrandt to Malevich, and include etching, painting, sculpture, photography and music. They have also organized conferences, tours, plays and training sessions. Some of their clients are Barcelona Turisme, Fundació Joan Miró, La Pedrera-Obra Social Caixa Catalunya, Diputació Barcelona-Àrea de Cultura and ONCE.


Željka Sušić, a curator and educator in the Typhlological Museum since 1996, has Masters Degrees in museum studies and special education and is currently working towards a PhD in museum studies at the University of Zagreb. She worked as a special education teacher with primary school children with intellectual difficulties.

Sušić believes museums have a role in raising awareness about issues of disability and promotes this philosophy through her work at the Museum.

In 2005, she was awarded the Croatian Museums Association Annual Award for the museological concept of "Dodir antike" ("A Touch of Antique") exhibition, which was prepared in the collaboration with the Louvre Museum.


Barbara Tversky is currently Professor of Psychology at Columbia Teachers College and Professor Emerita of Psychology at Stanford University. She received degrees in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Michigan and taught at Hebrew University of Jerusalem before joining Stanford. Her recent research has been in spatial cognition and language, event perception and cognition, and gesture, with applications to diagrammatic reasoning, design, human-computer interaction, education, and many domains of science. She has enjoyed interdisciplinary collaborations with computer scientists, linguists, philosophers, anthropologists, architects, designers, and domain scientists.


Born blind in 1974, Amyeric Vildieu is a graduate translator/conference interpreter and teacher of French as a second language. His studies led him to live in various countries such as the Netherlands, Scotland, and the U.S., where he became acquainted with the Independent Living Movement and learned advocacy-related techniques. In 2006, after being confronted with the harsh French labor market, he was hired by eyewear designer Alain Mikli as a translator, and to work on the tactile pictures project that he now supervises.

He fulfils his life-long passion for music and radio, hosting a weekly radio show broadcasted worldwide.


Ian Wardropper, Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Chairman of the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, heads this department of nine curators who supervise sixty galleries and 60,000 objects from the Renaissance to the beginning of Modernism. After completing his PhD at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, he was curator and later head of the department of European Decorative Arts, and Sculpture, and Ancient Art at The Art Institute of Chicago for nineteen years, until returning to New York in 2001.  He has organized over twenty exhibitions in his specialties of European sculpture, earlier decorative arts, and twentieth-century design and decorative arts. He has taught art history at six universities and published numerous books, catalogues, and articles. 


Marcus Weisen takes a personal interest in the connection between creativity, illness and disability among great artists; societal attitudes to disability and mortality; the representation of disabled people in medical collections and disability arts.   


He is Director of the Jodi Mattes Trust for accessible digital culture ( and Content Director for the ‘In Touch with Art 2’ Conference about museums and visually impaired people (Victoria and Albert Museum, 10.13.2010).

He was Health and Disability Adviser, Museums Libraries and Archives Council, England (2002-2007) and Arts Officer, Royal National Institute of Blind People, UK (1987-2002). He has a degree in French and German literature and philosophy.


Sean White is a visiting scientist at the Smithsonian Institution and postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia University. His research interests focus on investigating situated ways of interacting with and perceiving the environment through mixed and augmented reality, visualization, and tangible user interfaces. A 2009 Tech Awards Laureate, his recent projects include an electronic field guide for botanical species identification, augmented reality visualization of carbon monoxide in Manhattanville, and sonification of the Cuyahoga River. Dr. White received his BS and MS in Computer Science from Stanford University and his MS in Mechanical Engineering and PhD in Computer Science from Columbia University.


Jonathan Whiting is the Director of Training and Evaluation at WebAIM ( Since 2003 Jonathan has helped various organizations create a more accessible web presence by providing on-site training, by evaluating the accessibility of their web sites, and by guiding them through the creation of a system-wide accessibility policy. He has also been invited to give presentations and workshops at several internationally-attended conferences. Whiting is fluent in Spanish and recently supervised the creation of a Spanish-language version of the WAVE web accessibility evaluation tool (


Diane Willow is a multimodal artist working at the nexus of art, technology, science, and architecture. Her public installations, interactive environments and evocative objects involve media as eclectic as bioluminescent plankton, embedded computers, found sound and time-lapsed video. Willow's work is commissioned and exhibited nationally and internationally. Her awards include an Osher Fellowship at the Exploratorium, artist-in-residence at MIT, and Residential Fellowship at the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Advanced Study.

Currently Assistant Professor in Experimental and Media Arts at the University of Minnesota, her faculty appointment follows a multi-year residency as artist and researcher at the MIT Media Lab. She is interested in exploring the subtle ways that we express empathy with one another, with other life forms, with sensing objects, and with responsive environments.      


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