3D cornea printing, IMC16 Conference Dublin – scholarship winner’s experience

New Zealand are 3D printing corneas:


Thanks to IMC16 scholarship winner Amy Barrett-Lennard for her blog post outlining her experiences in Dublin:

How To Make Friends and Influence People…

…by bringing your Mum to an IMC!

Firstly I’d like to extend my sincere gratitude to the OMAA for offering this scholarship. As someone who never thought they would ever attend an IMC, it was such an amazing opportunity and unforgettable experience!

My plan for attending IMC16 started simple; prepare an abstract to present on VisAbility’s ROAM Project (Remote Orientation & Mobility).

Then, a chance conversation with a very experienced IMC attendee (thanks Bronwen!) led to me submitting a second abstract; an ABI case study on a client unable to access public transport due to severe vertigo.

Thirdly, I was invited to spend a week pre-IMC16 with Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind in Cork, 3 hours south of Dublin. They had heard about our ROAM Project and requested training for their rehabilitation team while I was in Ireland. So it ended up being a very productive and successful trip.

Me with the team at Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind

Hubby was pretty keen to come along for the ride (and the Guinness), but work and study commitments meant he had to stay behind. I’m sure it started out as a joke, but before I knew it my Mum Kerry had invited herself along and I was booking flights and accommodation for two. Kerry hasn’t ventured further than Malaysia, so the chance to piggyback on my Irish junket was too good for her to resist.

Me, Jodie Bruce (VisAbility) and Kerry at the IMC16 opening ceremony

So, we were all set to go! Except… I had taken on a little stowaway. 14 weeks pregnant sadly meant that it was ironically easy for me to meet the OMAA scholarship recipient requirements; “behave in a manner befitting a representative of OMAA whilst at IMC16” i.e. no Guinness OR Irish whiskey! Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed all the social events on offer at IMC16, and cherished the opportunity to network with the global O&M community.

The IMC team conveniently offer a ‘companion’s program’ to keep family members occupied throughout the day; a full program of outings and tourist adventures kept Kerry mostly out of trouble. It also meant she became very friendly with partners of some of our most esteemed O&M elite. Imagine my surprise (shock?) when Kerry introduced me to one of her new friends at the IMC16 Conference Dinner (held at Teelings Distillery):

“Oh, so YOUR Kerry’s daughter?!? I’ve been looking forward to meeting you! Your mum has told me all about your project… I must introduce you to my husband Bruce, he’s very interested in your work! Bruce…. BRUCE! Come over and meet Kerry’s daughter!”

Next minute I’m having an in-depth conversation with none other than the grandfather of O&M himself, Bruce Blasch (co-author of the “red bible” a.k.a. Foundations of Orientation & Mobility). Unfortunately I was too overwhelmed and star struck to ask for a photo!

I would strongly encourage those who have never been to an IMC before – just commit to going to one! It was the most incredible experience. And if you are going, consider bringing your Mum – you never know what doors might open up J

Amy Barrett-Lennard, VisAbility WA

Presenting my case study on the last day of IMC16