Keynote Speaker

Kenji Kuno, Ph.D

Senior Advisor, Social Protection : Disability And Development Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

Kenji Kuno is a senior advisor on social protection for the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is the government’s agency for international development. He has been working on disability and development for the past twenty five years, especially on Disability Equality Training (DET), livelihood (supported employment), and Community Based Inclusive Development. He was involved in the projects on disability in Malaysia for 15 years, and 3 years in Indonesia. He obtained Ph.D in Development Studies from the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom. He is also a visiting professor of the Nihon Fukushi University, Japan; and, a founding director of the Disability Equality Training (DET) Forum ( ).

His publications in English are: Doing Disability Equality Training (2012, MPH Publishing), Job Coach Handbook (co-editor, 2012, MPH Publishing), and Does Community Based Rehabilitation Really Work? (2007, Institut Sosial Malaysia (ISM) Research Monograph No.5).

Plenary Speakers

Bree Jimenez, Ph.D

Associate Professor of Special Education, University of Texas at Arlington

Dr. Bree Jimenez is an Associate Professor of Special Education. She has worked in the field of special education for over 20 years, as a classroom teacher supporting students in both elementary and high school, grant-funded research liaison between a local school system and university, then Lead Research Associate for an U.S. federally funded grant with the department of Special Education and Child Development at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She began her career in higher education as an assistant professor of special education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. From 2017-2019, Dr. Jimenez served as a Research Consultant with Mater Dei School in Camden, New South Wales and an Honorary Research Associate in Special Education with the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney.

Her research focuses on general curriculum access and assessment for students with intellectual disabilities and autism. Specifically, Dr. Jimenez’ research focuses on math, science, and STEM instruction for students with extensive support needs. She is the author/co-author of over 20 peer-reviewed journals articles, multiple book chapters, and several books on strategies to support academics for students with disabilities. She works closely with teachers, administrators, school systems and state departments of education both nationally and internationally. Dr. Jimenez is an executive board member of the Division for Research (DR) and the Division for Autism and Developmental Disabilities (DADD) of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). Dr. Jimenez is an author of the internationally implemented academic classroom curriculums: Teaching to Standards: Math; Teaching to Standards: Science; Early Numeracy; Early Science; Access Algebra and Access Geometry.

Ph. D. in Special Education, University of North Carolina (2010)
M. Ed. in Curriculum and Supervision, University of North Carolina (2003)
B.S. in Exceptional Child Education, University of Central Florida (1999)

Chia Ai Ling

Director, Communications and Community Engagement, SG Enable, Enabling Village, Singapore

Ms. Chia Ai ling is currently overseeing Communications and Community Engagement in SG Enable, a non-profit organisation in the disability sector. She was previously serving the Ministry of Education, Singapore as an educator, policy officer and Head of English at high school level for 14 years and 1 year as a Vice Principal in a Special Education (SPED) school. Her interest are in the area of in disability inclusion, education, non-profit communications, and engagement.

M.Arts (Literacy Studies), National University of Singapore (2012)
B.Arts (Education), National Insitute of Education, Nanyang Technological University (1999)

Kerry Bissaker, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Education, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work, Flinders University

Kerry Bissaker worked as a classroom teacher and special education consultant before commencing her position at Flinders University in 1997. She has engaged in extensive international roles holding leadership positions in this area with a particular focus on inclusive education in developing countries. Her international work in Asia has resulted in two Australia Award Fellowships and partnerships with universities, institutes and non-government agencies in Singapore, China, Indonesia and Nepal. She has supervised ten doctoral students to successful completion with their research focusing on enhancing quality education for all students across a number of contexts with a particular focus on teachers’ professional learning. She has received two Australian Government citations for her excellence in tertiary teaching and she currently leads the Education discipline in the College of Education, Psychology and Social Work as Flinders University.

Ph.D. in Special Education, Flinders University
M.Ed. in Special Education, Melbourne University
B.A in Special Education, Flinders University
B.A in Education, University of SA, SACAE

Mariam Mohamad, Ph.D

Senior Lecturer, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia

Dr Mariam Mohamad is a Senior Lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang Malaysia. Her research interest is in the field of mobile learning and mobile assistive technology. Dr Mariam was acknowledged as one of the pioneers from Malaysia in mobile learning research, in the book entitled Mobile Learning in Higher Education in the Asia-Pacific Region published by Springer. Her work also referred by UNESCO in the publication entitled; Turning on Mobile Learning: Illustrative Initiatives and Policy Implications. For her success in the field, she was awarded with various international grant from Japan to support her research in mobile assistive technology.

She also won various prestigious innovation competition including; (i) Gold medal award from Virtual Innovation Competition 2020 entitled “Historical Courses Learning Model Embedded with Virtual Reality As Remote Learning Tool Of Game Based Mode”, (iii)Bronze medal award from International Invention, Innovation and Design Competition 2020 entitled “AULSTRA guide to writing on the go”, (iv)Silver medal award from International Innovation Arsvot Malaysia (IAM 2021) entitled “ Learning module for history subject via mobile based learning” and (v)Bronze medal award from International Innovation Arsvot Malaysia (IAM 2021) entitled “Education in need and demand victory app: An innovation framework utilizing virtual reality to improve visual learning ability and students performance gain in history lessons contents”.
For the community, she also devoted her time as the Vice President for Dyslexia Association, Penang State and the Advisor for Special Need Students Association, University Sains Malaysia. She is also a committee member for Research & Development Unit, Malaysian Association for The Blind.

Ph.D in Mobile Learning, University of Southampton, United Kingdom (2012)
M. Sc. in Computer Based Learning and Training, University of Southampton, United Kingdom (2006)
Associate Degree in Information Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Malaysia (1997)

Marilyn Friend, Ph.D.

Professor Emerita, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Marilyn Friend has spent her career as a general education and special education teacher (in Virginia and Indiana), researcher, professor, administrator, teacher educator (in Oklahoma, Illinois, Indiana, and North Carolina), and staff developer. Dr. Friend is Professor Emerita of Education in the Department of Specialized Education Services at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she served as department chairperson, and she is a Fulbright scholar. Dr. Friend is Past President of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving the educational success and other outcomes of children and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents. She currently resides in Washington, DC.

Dr. Friend has consulted with school professionals nationally and internationally (more than 3500 presentations and projects in the United States (48 states), Canada, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia) as they collaborate to (a) educate diverse groups of students, assisting them to create classroom partnerships through co-teaching, (b) form productive and efficient work teams, and (c) foster inclusive practices for students with disabilities. She is the author or co-author of three widely used college textbooks on special education topics; two book on co-teaching; a variety of co-teaching materials for teachers and administrators; more than 70 articles and chapters about collaboration, inclusion, and co-teaching; and a popular video series on co-teaching, effective instruction, and other inclusive practices. Her books have been translated into Danish, Mandarin, Italian, Portuguese, French, and Japanese. Dr. Friend’s contributions were recognized when she was the 2016 recipient of the Teacher Education Division (CEC)/Pearson Excellence in Special Education Teacher Education Award. She was also named a 2019 recipient of the Indiana University School of Education Distinguished Alumni Award and the 2021 recipient of the Division of the Arts in Special Education (CEC) Lifetime Achievement Award.

Ph.D. in Special Education, Indiana University Bloomington (1981)
M.S. in Special Education, Indiana University Bloomington (1978)
B.S. in Elementary Education, Butler University Indianapolis (1974)

Min Wook Ok, Ph.D

Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education at Daegu University, South Korea

Dr. Min Wook Ok is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education at Daegu University, South Korea. Prior to her current position, she has served as an assistant professor at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, U.S. She also worked as a special education teacher and a lab manager of instructional and assistive technology lab at University of Texas at Austin.

Her research involvement in the area of special education enriched when she was attended to the University of Texas at Austin, U.S. as the graduate research assistant and interventionist. She had the opportunity to conduct many research projects at the university focusing on assistive and instructional technology (AIT) in improving the teaching and learning for students with disabilities.

She has published many articles in peer-reviewed journals. Her research interests involve assistive and instructional technology (AIT), universal design of learning (UDL), effective instructional strategies for learners with learning disabilities and teacher education in AIT.

Ph.D. in Special Education, Learning Disabilities and Behavior Disorders, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas (2014)
M.Ed. in Special Education, Learning Disabilities and Behavior Disorders, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas (2008)
B.A. in Special Education, Dankook University, Seoul, South Korea (2006)

Muhammad Zhariff Afandi

Motivator, Public Speaker, Author, Entrepreneur

Zhariff Afandi is a renowned motivator, life coach, public speaker, extreme sportsman, author, father, entrepreneur and humanitarian. A creature of adaptation, Zhariff has never let being born without arms hinder his ability to lead a fulfilling life. In fact, he had no concept of a ‘disability’ until early adulthood and has never viewed himself as disadvantaged. Any obstacle has always been overcome with a solution and his vivacious personality has meant he lives his life exactly how he wants to. "From the days of school and university, I dreamt of being the best person I could.

"I've been truly blessed that the lack of arms hasn't stopped me from contributing as much as I can towards a better world, and I've had amazing opportunities for growth, development, and ultimately living a meaningful life," said Zhariff.

Today, he continues to exude his passion for helping others through his ongoing volunteer work in crisis-stricken countries and his role at UNICEF, to develop their volunteer engagement strategy.

Bringing a wealth of experience from community programs, social action advocacy, and humanitarian relief both locally and internationally, Zhariff is well known to be an inspirational and outstanding figure in the social entrepreneurship, community, and not-for-profit sectors.

Bachelor of Psychological Science, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia

Salmah Jopri

Director, Special Education Division, Ministry of Education Malaysia

Ms. Salmah binti Jopri is an education enthusiast, equipped with 30 years of experience in the field. Ventured in the education landscape in 1991, she has served as a secondary school teacher for 6 years, before being promoted as a lecturer in Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Polytechnic in 1999. Her professional experiences in teaching and management fields have brought her to the Technical Education Department from 2000 until 2005. She has joined the Special Education Division in June 2005 until April 2019.

As Deputy Director of Planning and Research Sector, she is passionate about innovation and improving outcomes for students with special education needs (SEN). She has led efforts to improve the quality and effectiveness of program services through regulations, research, program monitoring, and training and technical assistance. She is also keen on advocating for students with SEN and supporting teachers in creating classrooms that provide the necessary access, participation, and support for full inclusion.

In April 2019, she has been appointed as the Director of Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization, Regional Centre for Special Educational Needs (SEAMEO SEN). Within 1 and a half year in her tenure, Ms. Salmah has spearheaded various collaborative programs and activities with prominent education stakeholders in the Southeast Asia region, in promoting and enhancing the quality of Special Education Needs Practices for Person with Disabilities (PwD) and its communities.

Promoted as the Director of Special Education Division, Ministry of Education Malaysia in September 2020, Ms. Salmah continues to paved her journey in ensuring the rights to education for Special Educational Needs children will further flourish, through dedicated national roll-out plans in place. In this role, she provides strategic direction, advocating leadership, and as an exemplary champion in strengthening the Special Education positive growth.

M.Ed. in Management and Administration, University of Technology, Malaysia (1997).
B.A.(Hons) in Public Administration, Universiti Utara Malaysia (1988)


Education Specialist, Perkins International's Asia/Pacific Program

Ms. Weningsih is an Education Specialist with Perkins International's Asia/Pacific Program. Her roles are to provide consultation and technical assistance to partners who serve children with visual impairment, deafblind and multiple disabilities. At Perkins, her responsibility involves coordinating trainings and develop regional plans for Asia/Pacific region with the ultimate goal of implementing quality and sustainable services for children and their families especially in Indonesia and Malaysia.

She has been working in the area of deafblind and multiple disabilities for the past 15 years with hands-on experiences in both developed and less fortunate countries. Her vast experiences as well as expertise in conducting high-impact workshops and sharing sessions has led her to many involvements in disabilities-related projects throughout the Southeast Asia region.

Her areas of expertise in deafblind and multiple disabilities management includes school administration, behavior and communication, curriculum, daily living skills, early education, inclusion, parenting and family support, community based rehabilitation.

B.A. in Special Education