Brandman in the Community

Brandman’s programs for accessible education gain international reputation

February 24, 2016 by Cindy O'Dell
Dr. Loren O'Connor presents an award while at the First World Disability and Rehabilitation Conference in Sri Lanka. Looking on are Isanka Gamage (director of TIIKM Conferences, at far right) and Oshadee Withanawasam (chairman and CEO of TIIKM Conferences).

Dr. Loren O’Connor presents an award while at the First World Disability and Rehabilitation Conference in Sri Lanka. Looking on are Isanka Gamage (director of TIIKM Conferences, at far right) and Oshadee Withanawasam (chairman and CEO of TIIKM Conferences).

Dr. Loren O’Connor, assistant vice chancellor for the Office of Accessible Education and Counseling Services, and Alex Price, disabilities services coordinator for Brandman University, recently represented the university as the academic partner for the first World Disability and Rehabilitation Conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

In their keynote address, they spoke about services, opportunities and facilities for employee with disabilities. They also chaired several technical paper sessions and evaluated the presentations. At the end of the conference, O’Connor awarded the winning presenters with certificates and medals.

The conference included professionals in the field of education from all over the world. Also attending was S.B. Dissanayake, minister of Social Empowerment and Welfare for Sri Lanka.

Alex Price (right), coordinator of Brandman University Disabilities Services, and Dr. Loren O'Connor, assistant vice chancellor, listen to Dr. S W K Karunarantha from the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, present her research 'Brain Development in Children and Ayurveda Brain Tonic Herbs.' Price and O'Connor chaired technical paper sessions and judged the presentations.

Alex Price (right), coordinator of Brandman University Disabilities Services, and Dr. Loren O’Connor, assistant vice chancellor, listen to Dr. S W K Karunarantha from the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, present her research “Brain Development in Children and Ayurveda Brain Tonic Herbs.” Price and O’Connor chaired technical paper sessions and judged the presentations.

While in Colombo, Price and O’Connor held a three-hour workshop for the University of Colombo sociology department. Participants included faculty, student and Social Empowerment and Welfare Ministry staff members. The workshop focused on the importance of disability rights and how the University of Colombo could create an accessible learning environment for their students as well as information on major disability services legislation acts within the United States and their role in the create of a universal design for learning and information about the most prevalent disabilities among university students.

“We shared the wide variety of assistive technology products and services and how they can help both students with and without disabilities,” said O’Connor. “We also identified the essential staff positions required to run a successful Office of Accessible Education and Counseling Services and they can collaborate with university administration, faculty and staff to create a learning environment built on the framework of universal design.”

Dr. Loren O'Connor, assistant vice chancellor, talks with a Sri Lanka officer who helped rehabilitate veterans from the recent civil war.

Dr. Loren O’Connor, assistant vice chancellor, talks with a Sri Lanka officer who helped rehabilitate veterans from the recent civil war.

O’Connor said they attend conferences all over the world because they want Brandman University to be on the forefront of advocating for international disability rights. “We are in the process of creating an international community of professionals who seek to educate, empower and promote independence for people with disabilities all over the world.”

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