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Core team

IDEA brings together a network of research and disability inclusion practitioners and partners at UCT and beyond to engage with IDEA in various ways. The IDEA core team acts as a hub, which aims to provide resources and services that contribute to including disability in education. The core team consists of the Director and Deputy Director, research staff and project management staff.

Associate Professor Judith McKenzieDirector, Associate Professor Judith McKenzie (PhD)
Judith has worked in the disability field since 1980, when she graduated from the University of Cape Town with a degree in speech and hearing therapy. In 1988 she was employed at a rural hospital in South Africa, Tintswalo Hospital, where she participated in community based and interdisciplinary efforts to address disability, exclusion and poverty. In 1995 she was selected as a fellow on the Kellogg International Leadership Programme, and she benefited from international experience on inclusive education. In December 2009 she was awarded the UNESCO/Emir Jaber al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah Prize for promoting quality education for persons with intellectual disability. Her main areas of interest are inclusive education, particularly as regards policy development and teacher education.

She convenes the disability studies in education course on the postgraduate diploma in Disability Studies and supervises masters and doctoral students.

She was the principal investigator responsible for the Teacher Empowerment for Disability Inclusion (TEDI) project and currently director of the Including Disability in Education in Africa  (IDEA) research unit. She has worked in the field of inclusive education for over 20 years at all levels of the education system and published on the topic. She is the mother of a young man with Down Syndrome and has an intense interest and engagement with issues surrounding intellectual disability on both personal and professional levels.


Co Director, Dr Brian WatermeyerCo Director, Dr Brian Watermeyer (DPhil)
Dr Brian Watermeyer trained as a clinical psychologist (M.A. {Clin. Psych.}) at UCT, before completing a doctorate in psychology (D. Phil), focusing on disability studies, at Stellenbosch University. He was first editor of South Africa’s first major text in disability studies, entitled Disability and Social Change: A South African Agenda, published in 2006 (HSRC Press). His second book, Towards a Contextual Psychology of Disablism, was published internationally by Routledge in 2013. His most recent book is The Palgrave Handbook of Disability and Citizenship in the Global South (New York: Palgrave), edited by B. Watermeyer, J. McKenzie and L. Swartz (2019). Dr Watermeyer has an extensive list of international journal publications, book chapters, and media appearances as a disability scholar and activist. He teaches on postgraduate programmes in disability and clinical psychology, as well as guest lecturing in medicine and rehabilitation science.


Honorary Research Affiliate, Dr Jörg WeberHonorary Research Affiliate, Dr Jörg Weber (PhD)
Senior Global Advisor Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) for CBM and an honorary research affiliate in IDEA. He has 20 years experience advising community programmes as well as UN bodies, professional organizations and government agencies in inclusive community development, rehabilitation, education and inclusive livelihoods. He has designed grassroots tools and trainings for organisations for persons with disabilities, community mobilizers and primary school teachers. Joerg has conducted programme evaluations in more than 40 countries worldwide, for governments, INGOs and multilaterals, including WHO and PAHO. He is executive Editor of the WHO online Training "INCLUDE".



Research Officer, Dr Richard VergunstResearch Officer, Dr Richard Vergunst (PhD)
10 years experience in disability research including 5 years experience in working on a multinational disability project looking at access to health care in four African countries.






Research Assistant, Ms Chantal SamuelsResearch Assistant, Ms Chantal Samuels (Dip Disability Studies)
13 years experience in training learners with intellectual disabilities. In 2018, completed Postgraduate diploma in Disability Studies and currently completing MPhil in Disability Studies.






Project Manager, Ms Thandi HenkemanProject Manager, Ms Thandi Henkeman
7 years of experience in the development sector managing projects focused on education. She has dedicated her efforts to the development of Inclusive Education in South Africa.  A lawyer by profession, advocating for the rights of learners.