26th Annual International & Persons with Disabilities Conference

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Keynote Address


Keynote Address & Welcome Reception

Tuesday evening, March 15 at 5:30 pm marks the official opening of the 26th Annual CSUN Conference. Your host for the events is the 2011 Conference Chair, Dr. Arthur I. Karshmer. Please join us as we welcome Axel Leblois, Mohammed Al-Tarawneh and Paul Schafer as our Keynote Panel Members, honor our Strache Award winner, and recognize several notable occasions happening at the conference.

Paul P. Schafer

Photo of Paul SchaferPaul Schafer has held his current position of Information Technology (IT) Specialist and Assistant Section 508 Coordinator at the U.S. Department of State, since 2002. From his life-long passion and experiences with computers and technology, he has concentrated on serving people with and without disabilities for over 25 years. Prior to his current position, Mr. Schafer owned and operated PPS Enterprises, a highly-successful PC consulting/development/training business and assisted various Federal and State U.S. government, academic and consumers throughout the U.S. Prior to developing and running PPS Enterprises, Paul served faculty, staff, and students with and without disabilities as an AT and IT-Accessibility Specialist within Indiana University’s Bloomington University Information Technology Services (UITS).

Most recently, Mr. Schafer supports efforts by the Department’s first-ever Special Advisor for International Disability Rights, Judith E. Heumann, who was appointed in mid- 2010 by president Obama and Secretary Clinton. These highlights include: serving as proxy lead coordinator, in collaboration with G3ICT.org, in planning the first-ever opening two-hour expert-panel briefing hosted at the Department of State for a U.S. and international audience of approximately seventy experts and U.N. officials, for the joint G3ICT-GWU Global Policy Forum on Accessible ICT; moderating the Department-hosted briefing and the closing session of the policy forum; collaborating with the IIP Bureau’s International Visitor’s Program; hosting a delegation of persons with visual disabilities from Poland and a delegation of people with physical disabilities from Mongolia regarding U.S. best disability-related policy/practices within and outside the government. He also works with officials on Section 508 technical requirements and issues raised at such events as the ICDR (Inter-Agency Committee on Disability Research) expert panel held this past fall at the U.S. Access Board.

Mr. Schafer is also involved with the Software Accessibility for ISO 9241-171 software accessibility project, the Section 508 and DOJ-Survey Inter-Agency Working Groups, and the U.S. Department of State’s employee-based Disability Action Group (DAG). After going blind, Mr. Schafer learned to ski and has now become an avid (unassisted) alpine skier. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Discovery Blind Sports (DBS).

Mohammed Al-Tarawneh

Photo of Mohammed Al-TarawnehWith over 25 years experience in both public sector and international development, Mohammed Al-Tarawneh is highly experienced with a background that includes: Director of Special Building Codes Department at the Greater Amman Municipality; Chief Advisor to United Nations Special Rapporteur on Disabilities in Doha-Qatar; CEO for CBDC, Inc (Cross Borders Development Consultancies) and a Civil Engineer in the United States.

Mr. Al-Tarawneh has gained tremendous experience developing, managing and implementing donor funded projects by the US Government, United Nations, European Union and other agencies. He is also highly experienced in promoting, raising awareness and advocacy for political and civic participation of vulnerable and marginalized groups (i.e. Women, Children, Minorities and Persons with disabilities).

In 2008, Mr. Al-Tarawneh was officially nominated by the Jordanian Government and was elected for a four year term by member states at the UN headquarters as one of the twelve international Experts for the latest Human Rights treaty-“Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities” (CRPD). The following year, he was elected as the founding Chairperson for the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and currently is the Vice-Chair of the UN CRPD Committee.

Axel Leblois

Photo of Axel LebloisAxel Leblois is the Founder and Executive Director of G3ict – the Global Initiative for Inclusive Technologies, an Advocacy Initiative of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development, launched in December 2006 in cooperation with the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at UN DESA.

G3ict’s mission is to promote and support the implementation of the e-accessibility and assistive technologies agenda of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in cooperation with industry, the public sector, academia and organizations representing persons with disabilities.

Prior to founding G3ict, Mr. Leblois spent over 20 years at the helm of information technology companies in the United States including as CEO of Computerworld Communications, CEO of IDC – International Data Corporation, President of Bull HN Worldwide Information Systems – Formerly Honeywell Information Systems, CEO of ExecuTrain and co-founder and President of W2i, the Wireless Internet Institute. He has also served as a Senior Fellow of UNITAR, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, and is a founding trustee of its North American affiliate CIFAL Atlanta.