California Deafblind Services

Lowenfeld-Akeson: Early Years Symposium


Thanks to everyone who joined us for the 27th Annual Lowenfeld-Akeson Early Years Symposium (2023):

Ready, Set, Learn! —Supporting sleep, sensory needs, and readiness to learn in young children with vision loss

This event took place
on Saturday, February 4, 2023!

9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

at California School for the Blind, Fremont



2023 Speakers were:

Rafael Pelayo, MD

Christopher Russell, MS Ed, TVI

and Parent Panel in afternoon




and to Dr. Mark Jacobson  — the winner of the

2023 Dr. William and Mrs. Ruth Silverman Award

for Excellence in Community Partnerships 





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Dr. William and Mrs. Ruth Silverman
Excellence in Community Partnerships Award* 2023
The Silverman Award Committee is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2023 Dr. William and Mrs. Ruth Silverman Award for Excellence in Community Partnerships is Dr. Mark Jacobson.  Dr. Jacobson has been in medical practice for over 42 years and is currently a Pediatric Ophthalmologist with Kaiser Permanente in Sonoma County.  Born in Fargo, North Dakota, Dr. Jacobson graduated from the University of Iowa undergraduate program and the Iowa College of Medicine.  Following his internship in Fargo, he moved to Buffalo, New York, and began his ophthalmology training at SUNY (State University of New York). He then completed his ophthalmology training at the Eye Institute affiliated with the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.  It was at this time that he realized “it was dealing with children and the analysis of crossed eye problems that gave me joy and energy.”  Dr. Jacobson did a year fellowship in pediatric ophthalmology at the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children, and before beginning private practice in Santa Rosa, California, he did a second fellowship at Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco with Dr. Art Jampolsky, M.D. and Dr. Alan Scott, M.D.  He attended surgery with Dr. Jampolsky for ten years.  “During this time and up until the present, I have taught residents in their clinics, either at California Pacific Medical Center or University of California, San Francisco, trying to give back some of what I had learned.” Among Dr. Jacobson’s accomplishments, the following commendation was included in his Silverman Award nomination:  “Dr. Jacobson enriches the lives of our children by doing all he can with each individual child he works with to maximize their vision and vision potential, he is a strong supporter of early intervention and refers for services early in a child’s life.  He often has advice and ideas for parents.  He is so comfortable with our babies with multiple challenges and makes parents feel that their little one is great!” Dr. Jacobson is married and has two grown sons.  He offers this advice to us all: “I find as an adult, it is a wonderful thing to do (take piano lessons) and I encourage everyone to consider pursuing a forgotten passion.  You are never too old to learn.” Please join us as we honor Dr. Mark Jacobson at the 2023 Lowenfeld-Akeson Symposium on February 4th as this year’s Dr. William and Mrs. Ruth Silverman Excellence in Community Partnerships Award Recipient.  Congratulations and Thank You, Dr. Jacobson!   
*Excerpts taken from the Kaiser Permanente My Doctor Online



Previous award recipients are: Deborah Orel-Bixler, OD, PhD, FAAO, Berkeley Low Vision Clinic, and Dr. Arvind Chandna, M.D.,  Smith Kettlewell Eye Research Institute.




Lowenfeld-Akeson: Early Years Symposium

Berthold Lowenfeld - history

Berthold Lowenfeld ( 1901-1994) was born in Linz, Austria.

Dr. Lowenfeld received his Ph.D. from the University of Vienna. He dedicated his life to the education of people with visual impairments and worked to have persons with visual impairments fully integrated into society. Dr. Lowenfeld focused his research on the total effect of blindness during his ten years at the American Foundation for the Blind as Director of Research. He continued while a lecturer at Columbia University and as a consultant.

Dr. Lowenfeld published over one hundred articles and several books.

Dr. Lowenfeld served as Superintendent of the California School for the Blind for fifteen years. He mentored many of the current leaders in our field today.


Nancy Akeson - History

Nancy Akeson was the first Home Counselor for the Blind Babies Foundation. Although she officially retired from BBF in 1984, Nancy remained active with the organization as a member of BBF's Professional Advisory Committee and periodically served as Interim Executive Director.

Nancy's publications include "Preschool Vision Stimulation--It's More Than a Flashlight," which she co-authored with Lois Harrell for the American Foundation for the Blind.

Nancy passed away in February, 2005. There was no one like her. She had an open heart and delighted in the uniqueness of everyone she encountered. Wherever she was, traveling and living throughout the world, she made friends. She was the greatest communicator, always speaking directly to what was important. Nancy's bold and engaged life is an inspiration to us all.