About the Speakers

Monika Baár (DPhil in Modern History, Oxford, 2002) is Rosalind Franklin Fellow and Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Groningen. Her current research is at the intersections of disability studies and animal studies and her recent works include ‘Disability and Civil Courage under State Socialism: The Scandal over the Hungarian Guide Dog School’, (forthcoming in Past and Present) and ‘The Impact of the Great War on the Human-Animal Bond: the Establishment of Guide Dog Training in Interwar Germany’, forthcoming in First World War Studies in a special issue on Commemorating the Disabled Soldier.

Norman R. Ball is a historian of technology based in Toronto, Canada. From 1989 until his retirement in 2010, he was engineering professor and director of the Centre for Society, Technology and Values at the University of Waterloo, Canada. He is currently studying the technologies of communication for the blind with a particular emphasis on typewriters. Dr. Ball’s numerous publications range over a wide area; his published books include “Mind, Heart, and Vision.” Professional Engineering in Canada 1887 to 1987, Ferranti-Packard: Pioneers in Canadian Electrical Manufacturing and The Canadian Niagara Power Company Story.

Dr Hervé Baudry is presently a fellow in History of Science at the FCT (National Research Agency) and member of the Portuguese Centre for Global History, New University of Lisbon (CHAM-UNL). His work on Descartes: Le Dos de ses livres. Descartes a-t-il lu Montaigne ? (Paris : Champion) is forthcoming and he has also published 'Montaigne, Descartes et les artilleurs: Daniel Davelourt lecteur des Essais et Descartes lecteur des Récréations mathématiques' in Seizième Siècle, nº 9, 2013. In Portuguese culture, he has directed works on the Brazilian blind poet, Glauco Mattoso; as an editor (éditions La Ligne d’ombre), he is supervizing a translation into French of part of his sonnets.

Partho Bhowmick is an independent photographer educated in business management and information technology. His photographic work is exhibited across India. After two years of independent research on art and blindness, he started the Blind with Camera project in early 2006, to teach photography to the visually impaired. In 2010, he launched the world's first virtual e-school of photography for the blind. He has been a curator of several photography exhibitions in India and abroad. He has conceptualised, written and compiled three books: See As No Other (Partridge, an imprint of Penguin) and the sensory book In Touch With Pictures are based on the Blind With Camera project while Facing the Mirror is a collection of his photographic work. All three books will be launched in 2015. 

Amanda Cachia is an independent curator from Sydney, Australia and is currently a PhD Candidate in Art History, Theory & Criticism at the University of California, San Diego. She is the 2014 recipient of the Irving K. Zola Award for Emerging Scholars in Disability Studies, issued by the Society for Disability Studies (SDS). Cachia completed her second Masters degree in Visual & Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts (CCA) in 2012, and received her first Masters in Creative Curating from Goldsmiths College, University of London in 2001. Cachia held the position Director/Curator of the Dunlop Art Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada from 2007-2010, and has curated approximately 30 exhibitions over the last ten years in various cities across the USA, England, Australia and Canada. Her critical writing has been published in numerous exhibition catalogues and art journals including Canadian Art, Art Monthly Australia and On Curating, and peer-reviewed academic journals such as Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, Disability Studies Quarterly, Journal of Visual Art Practice, Museums and Social Issues: A Journal of Reflective Discourse and The Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal. Forthcoming publications include articles in The Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies and in an edited volume on art history and disability studies to be published by Ashgate  in the UK.  For more information, visit her website

Dr Piet Devos (1983) is a Belgian literary scholar. Having lost sight at the age of five, he has always been fascinated by perception. In his PhD thesis, he developed a sensory approach to literature. His new research project focuses on writers who interpreted their disabilities as a creative reorganization of perception. From November 2015 onward, Piet will be affiliated with the Centre for Sensory Studies at Concordia University, Montreal (Canada).

Sébastien Durand is associate Professor, Department of Arts und Humanities (CFMI), at the University of Tours (France). The subject of his doctoral dissertation (University of Nancy 2) was on blind musicians and the french organ school (1820-1930) at the INJA (Paris). His research interest focuses on blind musicians in France and in Europe. He has published several articles on this subject, and has also written a book on the blind composer and organ virtuoso Gaston Litaize (Paris, Bleu Nuit, 2005).

Alice Entwistle is Principal Lecturer in English Literature at the University of South Wales. She is a specialist in contemporary British and Irish poetry. The author of Poetry, Geography, Gender: Women Rewriting Contemporary Wales (University of Wales Press, 2013), Alice co-wrote A History of Twentieth-Century British Women’s Poetry (with Jane Dowson, Cambridge University Press, 2005) and an edited volume of her interviews with contemporary poets, In Her Own Voice: Women talking poetry and Wales, was published by Seren in 2014. Alongside critical works on bilingual poets Gwyneth Lewis and Ciaran Carson, Alice finds ways of pursuing a particular interest in site-specific cross-disciplinary collaboration and practice.

Naomi Foyle is an Anglo-Canadian writer, poet, lecturer and professional Tarot card reader. She has published several collections of poetry and three novels. The Gaia Chronicle novels Astra (2014) and Rook Song (2015) are post-apocalyptic sci-fi feminist fantasies set in a disability-positive community

Louise Fryer has been an Audio Describer since the National Theatre began its service in 1993. Louise was the BBC's describer for the Audetel project, piloting AD for European television in the mid-90s. She has described films for RNIB, IMS and ITFC. She also works for Vocaleyes on productions around the UK. Louise has trained stage and screen describers in the UK and Australia. She also works with gallery assistants and curators on ways of making their collections more accessible for blind and partially sighted visitors. Louise is a Visiting Lecturer at University College London. She was awarded a PhD in Experimental Psychology from Goldsmiths College, University of London. Her research interests include the impact of visual impairment on multisensory perception and the immersive properties of audiodescription. She has given papers at numerous conferences and published articles in journals including Perspectives, the Journal of Media Psychology, the British Journal of Visual Impairment and the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness. She has written descriptive audio guides for many museums and galleries and received the Dr. Margaret R. Pfanstiehl Memorial Achievement Award in Audio Description research and development (2014). Before having a stroke in April 2014 Louise was a regular broadcaster for BBC Radio 3 and BBC World Service.

Sabine Gadrat-Cellou, DPLG architect, M.Sc.A. Université de Montréal, used to work on town accessibility for blind and visually impaired people. Her current interests are blindness depictions in fiction, in films as well as in novels.

Emilie Giles is a maker, producer and educator, her work spanning creative technology, crafting and pervasive gaming. She is an eTextile Consultant for the Open University and is Director of Codasign, an education company which teaches people how to be creative with open source tools.

Polly Goodwin is a freelance audio describer with a passion for silent film. She won the Collegium prize at the 2009 Giornate del Cinema Muto for a paper on how to watch a silent film, and has presented papers on silent film acting at the British Silent Film Festival and the ‘Music and Melodrama’ conference at Nottingham University. She also works as assistant to the Vice President of RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People). 

Frederic Grellier is a blind English-French translator who lives and works in Paris.

Florian Grond is a post-doctoral researcher at Concordia University, funded by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Research in Greater Montreal (CRIR). In his postdoctoral research he is developping sonic interaction design prototypes for audio beacons as sonic boundary objects for blind and sighted shoppers in a shopping mall. He is also an affiliate member of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology in Montreal. He holds an MSc (2002) from the Karl-Franzens University in Graz (Austria). From 2003 to 2007 he worked as a research associate and guest artist at the Center for Art and Media (ZKM) in Karlsruhe, Germany. He studied at the Cognitive Interaction Technology Center of Excellence (CITEC) and received a doctorate from Bielefeld University, Germany, in 2013. In his work, published in various journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers and exhibited in venues across Japan, Europe and North America, he focuses on the intersections between art and science, with a special interest in sound. In 2015, he will begin a FRSQC-funded research-creation post-doctoral project at the Input Devices and Music Interaction Laboratory (IDMIL) at McGill in collaboration with the Société des Arts Technologiques (SAT).

Kozue Handa completed a Master's program in Disability Sciences at University of Tsukuba. She continues to research and practise in the field of museum accessibility and inclusive art education including workshops incorporating tactile diagrams and the creation of artworks.

Nancy Hansen, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor and Director of the Interdisciplinary Master’s Program in Disability Studies at the University of Manitoba. She is a human geographer and her research interests in disability studies are varied ranging including; disability in spaces of culture, education, literacy social policy, employment and healthcare access. Nancy is a former , Past President of the Canadian Disability Studies Association. She is co-editing two disability history books and has written numerous book chapters and contributed to various international academic journals.

Simon Hayhoe is the program director of the MA Special Needs and Inclusion and co-ordinator for the EdD for the Special Educational Needs cohort at Canterbury Christ Church University, and a centre research associate in the CPNSS, London School of Economics. His PhD (Birmingham University) and MEd (Leicester University) are in the study of blindness and visual culture. He has also published four monographs and numerous articles on this and related topics. Previously, Simon was a teacher for fifteen years, and during his career he taught design, information technology and computing, key-worked students with special needs, and devised inclusive courses. In intervening years, he has also researched educational attainment with the universities of London and Toronto and was a Fellow of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Rachel Hutchinson spent 10 years in strategic market intelligence and consulting before deciding to return to academic study in 2013. She will complete an MA in English Literature at Queen Mary University of London in 2015 and is planning to undertake doctoral research in reading practices of blind and partially sighted people.

Iain Hutchison was awarded his doctorate by the University of Strathclyde for his research on ‘The Experience and Representation of Disability in Nineteenth-Century Scotland’. He is on the boards of the Disability History Association and Disability History Scotland, and he is reviews editor for H-Disability. He is researching the experience of the ''Outdoor Blind" in Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders during the Edwardian era, which is an RNIB Scotland project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Dr. Saša Poljak Istenič is a postdoctoral researcher at the Scientific research centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, currently focusing on the social aspects of creativity to enhance the understanding of creative economy as sustainable (socially inclusive, culturally sensitive and environmentally oriented). She prepared a museum exhibition Education and care for the blind and partially blind in Slovenia (2002) and organized a conference The blind and partially blind in a society: between historical perspective and contemporary issues (2013).

Since the early 1990s, Teresa Jaynes has created art installations and artist books based on her research in libraries and special collections. She is currently an artist-in-residence at the Library Company of Philadelphia working on her first solo exhibition, “Common Touch,” that will open in April 2016. As part of this work, she is collaborating with scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center to create stories experienced only through odor and sound. Jaynes has exhibited her work in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Rosenbach Museum & Library, and the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her BFA from the University of Texas at Austin and her MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including the Pew Fellowships in the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Jaynes has produced three limited edition artist books: “A Wag’s Progress,” “The Last Favour,” and “The Moon Reader.” For more information on her current project, visit its website.

Hemachandran Karah works in the fields of disability studies, medical humanities, and comparative musicology. His special interests in these areas are informed by his doctoral research at Cambridge, which was on the writings of Ved Mehta. Deploying a framework from disability studies, Karah managed to bind Mehta’s oeuvre, especially the narratives concerning the idea of blind culture. At present Karah is working on a book on the phenomenon of blind culture, which he claims exists beyond Mehta’s writings. In addition to a couple of international publications, Karah has organized a national workshop on disability studies. Karah plans to develop a nuanced academic discussion in the areas of disability, health, medicine, and music. In achieving this goal, he may travel beyond his mother discipline of literary criticism.

Yeaji Kim was born blind and graduated from Seoul National School for the Blind. She holds a BMus in Piano Performance and an MA in Music Education from the Sookmyung Women's University in Seoul; an MMus in Piano Performance from the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University and a DMA in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in USA. An active pianist, Dr. Kim has regularly given solo recitals and fund-raising Gala Concerts throughout major concert halls in Korea as well as in Japan, Hong Kong, Canada, and the USA, and she has been performing annual chamber concert as a member of Dukyoung Trio for 11 years. Dr. Kim has received a number of awards, and has performed as a soloist with many orchestras, including Korea Broadcast System Symphony Orchestra, Czech Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra, Vladibostok Philharmonic Orchestra, and New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra in memory of 40th anniversary of the peace treaty between Korea and Japan hosted by Mainichi newspaper. Dr. Kim’s research is focused on creating 3D Tactile Stave Notation through universal design, and her project has been featured in articles and videos. Currently Yeaji Kim serves as an Art Director for the YOUnIon Ensemble as well as a part-time piano instructor at Sookmyoung Women’s University.

Hiromi Kishi taught for 40 years at the Kyoto Prefectural School for the Visually Impaired, the first such school in Japan. Currently, he teaches part-time in education for the visually impaired at Shiga University, and is the secretary of the Japanese Society for the History of Education for the Blind. In 2013, he participated in the International Colloquium on the History of Blindness in Paris.

Professor Georgina Kleege lectures in English and Creative Writing at the University of Berkeley, California. Her current research interests include creative non-fiction, disability, autobiography and blindness and visual art. She is the author of Sight Unseen (1999) and Blind Rage: Letters to Helen Keller (2006) as well as numerous scholarly articles. Georgina is a leading figure in blindness studies.

Ryan Knighton is a Canadian writer and journalist. He has published two memoirs, Cockeyed and C'Mon Papa and regularly writes comic essays for the national and international press. You can visit his website here.

Jenni Kuuliala earned her PhD at the University of Tampere, Finland, in 2013. Her dissertation, to be published in 2015, analysed the reconstructions and definitions of children’s physical impairments in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century canonization processes. Since January 2014 she has been working as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Bremen, Germany, and is a member of the Creative Unit “Homo Debilis. Dis/ability in der Vormoderne”. Her current research project addresses corporality and sanctity in the later Middle Ages.

Riitta Lahtinen PhD, is a communication researcher at the Finnish Deafblind Association. Her PhD thesis “Haptices and haptemes” was accepted at the Behavioural Science Faculty at the Helsinki University in 2008. She was given the innovative award prize for her work in the same year. She has 30 years experience working as a qualified Teacher, Sign Language Interpreter and Mobility & Low Vision Teacher, Audio Describer and writer. She is involved in running international courses on communication methods for blind, deafblind people and their families, interpreters and professionals in Europe and training interpreters, planning University academic courses and publications. Currently she is doing her postdoctoral research on haptices and haptemes.

Bruno Liesen is a professional historian, publisher, researcher and author, He divides his time between the history of blindness and the history of printed books and reading. He works as a researcher for the Ligue Braille, the Belgian association for visually impaired people. He is also an assistant at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), collaborator of an expert antiquarian bookseller, Eric Speeckaert, and is preparing a PhD thesis about the printing industry in Brussels between the two world wars.

Bérengère Levet holds a MA in English Language and Civilization (Université de Nice) and is taking an MA in French Literatures (University of Montréal). She serves as a tutor in courses on genre literature at TELUQ in Montréal. She is a member of the LPCM association. Her research focuses on genre literature in relation to Literature, and genre literature in relation to cultural studies.

Lou Lockwood has enjoyed 28 years working as a visual artist and designer across the disciplines of painting, sculpture, architecture and street art. She has practised within the commercial, voluntary and education sectors. Her approach is generally to work collaboratively and site specifically. Her main preoccupation is with the relationships we make, with both the natural and built environments, particularly those that are local and familiar to us. Lou was diagnosed with Retinisa Pigmentosa 18 years ago and registered severely partially sighted in 2011.

Yayoi Mashimo received a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) in Museum Education from George Washington University on a Fulbright Grant. While teaching art history at two colleges in Tokyo, she researches and practices inclusive art education, including work on exhibition projects incorporating tactile diagrams and verbal descriptions.

Rebecca McGinnis oversees Access and Community Programs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. She and her colleagues are internationally recognized for their pioneering programs for people with disabilities, especially those for visitors who are blind or partially sighted. In 2014 the Met received the American Foundation for the Blind’s Access Award. In 2011 Rebecca received the Kennedy Center Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD) Award for Excellence in Accessibility Leadership and the American Council of the Blind Achievement Award in Audio Description for Museums. Her publications include “Islands of Stimulation: Perspectives on the Museum Experience, Present and Future” in The Multisensory Museum: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Touch, Sound, Smell, Memory, and Space, ed. Nina Levent and Alvaro Pascual Leone, AltaMira Press, 2014; “Learning in Art Museums: Cognition and Visual Impairment” in Journal of the Sciences and Arts (Mita Society for the Sciences and Arts, Keio University, Tokyo, number 14, 2010); “Enabling Education: Including People with Disabilities in Art Museum Programming” in From Periphery to Center: Art Museum Education in the 21st Century (National Art Education Association, 2007) and Art and the Alphabet: A Tactile Experience with Ileana Sanchez (2003). Rebecca co-convenes with Art Beyond Sight the Multimodal Approaches to Learning conference (2005, 2007, 2009, 2012). She is adjunct faculty in Johns Hopkins University’s Museum Studies MA program, co-chaired the Museum Access Consortium from 2000 to 2012, and participated in the Description Leadership Network of the Video Description Research and Development Center. She worked at Royal National Institute for Blind People and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. She holds MA degrees in Art History (New York University) and Museum Studies (University of Leicester) and is a doctoral candidate in Cognitive Psychology at Teachers College Columbia University, focusing on blindness.

C. Michael Mellor, author of Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius, NBP 2006, is former editor of the Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind in New York. Born in England, he graduated from Leeds University, where he specialized in the history of science and technology. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Irina Metzler is a leading scholar of cultural, religious and social aspects of disability in the European Middle Ages. She has combined the approaches of modern Disability Studies with historical sources to investigate the intellectual framework within which medieval cultures positioned physically and mentally impaired persons, publishing widely.

Rod Michalko has retired from teaching disability studies at the University of Toronto.  He is author of numerous articles and three books – The Mystery of the Eye and the Shadow of Blindness, The Two in One: Walking with Smokie, Walking with Blindness and The Difference that Disability Makes.   Rod is also co-editor with Tanya Titchkosky of Rethinking Normalcy: A Disability Studies Reader.  His current work involves an interrogation of the everyday sites in which disability is played out within its relation to versions of non-disability and normalcy.  This interest has recently taken a profound shift into short story writing with more than 20 short stories involving blind characters.  All of his work, both fiction and non-fiction is grounded in his blindness.

Brian R. Miller obtained his doctorate in history from the University of Iowa in 2013. His research has focused primarily on the history of the blind civil rights movement in the United States in the 20th century, as well as the education of the blind in the 19th century. He currently lives in the Washington D.C. area and works for the U. S. Department of Education. 

Selina Mills is an author, print and broadcast journalist with BBC Radio 4. Her background has been in general news and features for national and international media organisations including, The Spectator, The Observer, The Times, The FT, The Economist and Reuters. Her first non-fiction book, Life Unseen: the story of blindness will be published in 2015 by I.B Tauris.

Anne-Lise Mithout is a PhD candidate in sociology in Paris-Dauphine University and a teacher in Japanese Studies in Cergy-Pontoise University (France). Her research is mainly focused on visual disability in modern Japan, especially in the field of education, and includes interrogations from a historical perspective. 

Annika Noll studies clinical health psychology at the KU Leuven. She received her Bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2014 and will finish her Master of Science in 2016. She engages in research about Löwenfeld and tactility in the context of her Master thesis.

 Maria Oshodi is Creative Director of Extant, Britain’s only professional performing arts company of visually impaired artists. Starting from a unique artistic perspective, she has a unique commitment to the inclusion of visually impaired artists and audiences utilising imaginative collaborations with cross-artform and non-arts partners.

Russ Palmer SRAT(M), is an International Music Therapist, songwriter, musician and writer. In 1993 he was involved in the development of a portable music floor known as the Tac-Tile Sounds SystemTM with Sheffield University. His first academic publication with Manchester University titled ”Using Music with Sensory Impaired People including those with Profound Learning Disabilities (PLD)” was published in 2000. He released his first CD Warm Summer Days in 2009 and a DVD titled Pulse, a joint collaboration project with the Finnish Deaf Association in 2009 and DVD Musical perception of a CI user in 2012. Through musical expression and therapy he applies a concept and understanding of how people who are losing their hearing and sight can develop other senses in their bodies and how to interpret rhythm and vibrations. He gives international presentations as a hearing and visually impaired music therapist with two cochlear implants with his partner Dr. Riitta Lahtinen. Currently he is researching musical haptices and acoustic environment using cochlear implants with University of Helsinki and Turku.

Adam Pottle is a doctoral candidate in English literature at the University of Saskatchewan. His research focuses on how persons with disabilities are portrayed in literature, film, and television. He has presented and published papers in Canada, America, and the United Kingdom, and he has published an award-winning novel and a volume of poetry.

Maria Romeiras Amado has a PhD in Education History / Education Sciences and is currently a disability history researcher at the Education Institute of Lisbon University. She is also developping several projects towards literacy and culture such as accessibility to museums and exhibitions and the publication of books both in large print and Braille.

Bruno Ronfard co-edited, together with Zina Weygand, Suzanne Taha Hussein's manuscript Avec toi - De la France à l'Égypte : « Un extraordinaire amour » Suzanne et Taha Hussein (1915-1973) (Cerf, 2011). He is the author of Taha Hussein's biography : Taha Hussein - Les cultures en dialogue (DDB, Paris, 1995). Ronfard also contributed to the East West Divan book, with a chapter entitled: "Seeing Egypt Through Artists' Eyes". Bruno Ronfard lived and worked for thirteen years in Cairo. Writer, publisher and journalist, he is also currently Director of the Center for e-Learning at the Faculty of Continuing Education - University of Montreal (Quebec, Canada).

Matthew Rubery is Reader in Nineteenth-Century Literature at Queen Mary University of London. He is author of The Novelty of Newspapers: Victorian Fiction after the Invention of the News (2009), editor of Audiobooks, Literature, and Sound Studies (2011), and co-editor of Secret Commissions: An Anthology of Victorian Investigative Journalism (2012). His current project is titled “The Untold Story of the Talking Book”.

Paul Sullivan has been blind since birth. He works on access and inclusion at the museum service in Bristol. Previously he worked on access at the University of Bristol. His approach is informed by the Social Model of Disability and he is an advocate for inclusive design.

Sejal Sutaria is a Research Associate in English at the University of Exeter. Her current book project, Multipolar Modernity and the Making of Modernist Resistance, examines the role of British and Indian writers in anti-imperial and anti-fascist movements from 1880 to 1950. She is also one of three collaborators working on a volume about Dalit and Indigenous activist writing in India. As a newcomer to the field of Disability Studies, she looks forward to exploring how disability figures in postcolonial studies as well as questions of access and the dominance of the written word.

Dr Alexandra Tacke studied Modern German Literature, Philosophy and Italian Philology at universities in Munich, Berlin and Chicago. She has been a visiting professor at Kazimierz Wielki University in Bromberg, Poland, since February 2014. From 2005 to 2012 she worked as a research assistant in the Department of German Literature at Humboldt University, in Berlin, where she received her doctoral degree in 2010. Since 2012 she is an associated PostDoc member of the Creative Unit Homo debilis. Dis/ability in Pre-modern Societies at the University of Bremen with her recent research project: Blind Spots. A Literary and Aesthetic History of Blindness form the Early Modern Period to the Present Day. At the moment she is editing an anthology with the title: Blind Spots – a Film History of Blindness from the Early Silent Movie Era until the Present Day, which will be published in German in May 2015 

Tanya Titchkosky is a professor in the Department of Social Justice Education at OISE, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto.  She is author of The Question of Access: Disability, Space, Meaning as well as Reading and Writing Disability Differently: The Textured Life of Embodiment and Disability, Self and Society. Tanya is co-editor, with Rod Michalko, of Rethinking Normalcy: A Disability Studies Reader.  Her teaching and scholarship draw out the meaning made of embodied differences and of how perception is informed by disability imaginaries.  She relies on phenomenological and hermeneutic oriented approaches to inquiry within critical Race, Gender, Queer theory and Disability Studies theory.  Tanya is also interested in tracing out the cultural production of normalcy as it makes for highly exclusionary forms of (apparently) inclusionary practices and beliefs, especially as this relates to blindness and sightedness.  

Max Ubelaker Andrade received his Ph.D. from Boston University in 2010. He works at the University of Massachusetts Lowell as a Lecturer in Latin American Studies. His work has been published in peer-reviewed journals (Cervantes and Variaciones Borges) as well as in ADN, the cultural supplement of Argentina’s newspaper La Nación

Dannyelle Valente is doctor in Arts & Design from the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and is currently a researcher at Les Doigts Qui Rêvent. Her work is about tactile pictures and inclusive approaches to visual culture for blind people. She has already published articles and book chapters on these topics and was the editor, with Bernard Darras, of a collective book MEI 36 Handicap & Communication (2013). Her more recent research concerns the development of an innovative method of tactile picture conception in the frame of Participatory Design.

Pieter Verstraete is associate professor for the history of education at the Research Unit Education, Culture and Society at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences at the KU Leuven (Belgium). In his research he 1/ focuses on the history of persons with disabilities and contagious diseases through an educational perspective and 2/ explores the many possible ways of relating disability to art and vice versa. 

Romain Villet is a French novelist and professional jazz pianist. A graduate of Sciences-Po and the Paris Conservatoire, he has also studied journalism and has produced two radio documentaries for France Culture. His first novel, Look, was published by Gallimard in their prestigious Blanche collection in 2014. As well as performing frequently in Paris as part of his jazz trio, Romain is currently writing his second novel.

Dr Zina Weygand is an emeritus researcher at the Conservatoire national des arts et metiers, Paris, France. She is the leading historian of blindness and her publications include Les causes de la cécité et les soins oculaires en France au début du XIXe siècle (1800-1815) (1989); Vivre sans voir. Les aveugles dans la société française du Moyen Âge au siècle de Louis Braille (2003), reprinted in paperback in 2013, translated as The Blind in French Society from the Middle Ages to the Century of Louis Braille (2009), translated into Japanese in 2013; Suzanne Taha Hussein, Avec toi. De la France à l’Égypte : « Un extraordinaire amour » Suzanne et Taha Hussein (1915-1973) (with Bruno Ronfard) (2011); Thérèse-Adèle Husson. Une jeune aveugle dans la France du dix-neuvième siècle (with Catherine J. Kudlick) (2004). Zina was awarded the Order of Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur in 2014.