Welcome Messages

Click on the writer's image to read their message.

Marianne Riggio

Marianne Riggio, Perkins International

Gil Morbey

Gill Morbey, Deafblind International

Bernadette M. Kappen

Bernadette M. Kappen, Deafblind International

Michael Delaney

Michael Delaney, Perkins International

Marianne Riggio's message

Marianne Riggio

Greetings and welcome to Cape Cod,

We are so pleased with the great response to our first DbI Network of the Americas Conference. It is the first time we have ever held a conference that focuses on the work of our community from the Americas and Caribbean regions.

We felt that the theme of “Partnerships for Lifelong Learning” would provide a wide array of participants a chance to share their work – since all that we do requires strong partnerships, whether they are communication partnerships, family partnerships, collegial partnerships or political partnerships. As you read this program, you will see an amazingly rich array of workshops, presentations and discussions that are a tribute to how far we have evolved the work in every area of this wonderful field.

It is said that it takes a village to raise a child. It certainly took a village to create this conference. We are grateful to all of the sponsors who have enabled so many participants to attend and we are grateful to our program committee, who was responsible for guiding the content. Special thanks to our committee members: Barbara McLetchie, Lisa Jacobs, Bernadette Kappen, Carolyn Monaco, Vula Ikonomidis, Sam Morgan, Clara Berg, Sue Ruzenski, Martha Majors, Gloria Rodriguez-Gil and our advisors Mike Delaney, Ed Bosso and Dave Power.

Thanks also go out to all of those who have helped with the many logistics of hosting an event like this. They include: Brian Messenger, Kathleen Kenahan, Kathleen Mann, Dina Fiore, Pam Ryan, the Perkins IT department and Business office staff, and all of the people who have and continue to volunteer so much of their time to make sure that every detail is tended to.

We hope that you will enjoy this special time of learning, sharing, dialoguing and having fun together.

With all good wishes,  

Marianne Riggio,

Chair, DbI Network of the Americas


Gill Morbey's message

Gill Morbey

Dear Friends and colleagues,

It’s a real privilege to be welcoming you to the first ever Network of the Americas Conference. It’s also a privilege to be sharing the “platform” with Perkins School for the Blind. Of course, “Partnerships for Lifelong Learning” is our conference theme and indeed partnership and working together is embedded in the histories of both Perkins International and Deafblind International (DbI).

DbI was founded over 40 years ago to bring educationalists and practitioners from around the world together. We have continued to have this aim of sharing knowledge through our DbI Review, our conferences and, of course, our Networks. We are exceptionally proud of the Network of the Americas’ achievements.

This conference is dedicated to one of the giants in the field, Dr. Jan van Dijk. Most of us knew Jan, or at the very least studied his work and know of his strong empathy with children and families. He was also committed to learning, researching and refining his knowledge, which he generously passed on through his publications, many study tours and presentations. I know we will all feel his absence.

Still, Jan’s commitment to parents and learning is reflected in the conference program, and the partnership of parents working alongside caring and committed professionals remains strong. Many of your own organizations will reflect this powerful combination.

As President of DbI, I am delighted to welcome you to the Network of the Americas Conference and our continuing journey of lifelong learning.

With every best wish,

Gill Morbey

President, Deafblind International


Bernadette Kappen's message

Bernadette Kappen

Welcome to the first Deafblind International (DbI) Network of the Americas Conference. This is an important event in the history of DbI. Throughout the Americas, there are so many quality programs for children and adults with deafblindness. Coming together gives the opportunity to share information, learn from each other and broaden the network of individuals working in the field.

The conference is the first step in expanding the Network of the Americas. The Network will keep individuals connected and offer support and information related to issues in the field of deafblindness. I hope you will consider becoming a member of DbI and joining the Network of the Americas. DbI has always been thought of as the place where you can talk with colleagues without having to explain what you do. The openness and friendliness of the DbI members is something that people often comment on.

DbI thanks Perkins School for the Blind and the members of the Scientific Planning Committee and the Host Committee for putting together an event that will kick off excitement for the continuing work of the Network of the Americas.

Enjoy the conference and all the best in your work,

Bernadette M. Kappen

Vice President, Deafblind International


Michael Delaney's message

Michael Dulaney

Welcome! Bienvenido! Bem vinda! Bienvenue!

Perkins International is proud to welcome you to Cape Cod, one of the commonwealth of Massachusetts’ most iconic locations. We come together for the first Deafblind International Network of the Americas Conference, a result of an effort to strengthen our integration and sharing in the newly formed DbI Network of the Americas.  

We’re celebrating you as pioneers in this first-ever conference of its kind in the Americas. And we aim to celebrate and further explore the idea of partnership. Whether it’s achieving the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, fighting for human rights, or creating new economic opportunities with the deafblind community, we are all stronger when we work together.

Our conference theme – “Partnerships for Lifelong Learning” – acknowledges the importance of teamwork. By partnering as educators, service providers, consumers, policymakers, advocates and family members, together we can offer a lifelong array of support for the deafblind community – spanning from early intervention and K-12 education to programs, services and products for adults.

In an increasingly interconnected world, we must hone our networking skills – reaching out of our comfort zones, across sectoral lines – and practice collaboration. In this past year, Perkins International has successfully initiated new collaborations with governments throughout the world in an effort to provide quality education programs for every child with deafblindness and multiple disabilities.

We know that in order to reach the scale and scope of such a goal, we cannot work alone. We need collaboration at every level – national and local.

We have worked hard to put together a conference program that emphasizes your participation and your voice. We hope that this conference offers you the opportunity to explore, re-establish and create lifelong partnerships to achieve your personal, institutional, national and international goals.

Thank you,

Michael Delaney

Executive Director, Perkins International