News & Info



AFB Presents Highest Awards at the Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute

2007-03-17 23:07

Dallas, TX (February 27, 2007)?Today the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is pleased to announce the 2007 winners of the prestigious Migel Medals, Access Awards, and for the first time, the Corinne Kirchner Research Award. These awards recognize individuals and companies who have significantly contributed to the blindness and vision loss field.

"This year's recipients have expanded possibilities for people with vision loss?helping to improve independence and increase access to technology, research, employment, the arts, and the Internet," said Carl R. Augusto, President and CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind. "We are honored to publicly recognize these individuals and organizations for their incredible contributions to the field of blindness and low vision."

Migel Medal
The AFB Migel Medal?the highest honor in the blindness field?was established in 1937 by the late M.C. Migel, the first chairperson of AFB, to honor professionals and volunteers whose dedication and achievements have improved the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired.

The 2007 Professional Award Recipient is Berdell "Pete" Wurzburger.

Berdell "Pete" Wurzburger has been a premier leader in the field of orientation and mobility (O&M) for more than 40 years. Under his leadership guidance, in 1966, San Francisco State University established the nation's first program to teach instructors in O&M for children as well as adults. In the early 1980s, under Pete's leadership, San Francisco State University broke with tradition by accepting the first blind student into the graduate program, demonstrating Pete's strong belief in the capabilities of people who are blind. His pioneering work over 40 years has improved the lives of thousands of children and adults throughout the nation.

The 2007 Migel Lay Volunteer Award recipients are Jim Bliss and David Holladay.

Jim Bliss has for more than 35 years blazed a trail in technology, beginning with the development of the Optacon, a device that converts print into raised shapes that can be read tactilely. This device, and many others that followed, opened new horizons in education, employment, and daily living. Jim was truly one of the pioneers in the development of access technology that today still has a positive impact on the lives of blind people.

David Holladay's creativity and perseverance enabled braille users, particularly blind and visually impaired students in school, to have access to information through the development of braille translation software. He realized many people in the field needed brailled instructional materials and his programs made this possible in an efficient and effective way. David continues to pursue his career by serving as a product manager for Duxbury Systems, a leading producer of software for braille.

The M.C. Migel Awards Luncheon will take place on Saturday, March 24, 2007, at 12:00 pm at the Dallas/Addison Marriott Quorum by the Galleria, Dallas, TX.

Berdell "Pete" Wurzburger and Jim Bliss will be honored on Sunday, March 4, 2007, during the CTEVH Conference in Santa Clara, CA.

Access Awards
The Access Awards honor individuals, corporations, and organizations that are eliminating or substantially reducing inequities faced by people who are blind or visually impaired.


The 2007 recipients are:

AMC Theatres®

Lights, camera, description! AMC Theatres has taken the lead on accessibility by offering video description at almost 150 theatres across the country. Video description gives people with vision loss access to what's happening on the screen through verbal depictions of key visual elements.

Canon USA, Inc.
Canon USA, Inc., has made copy machines easy to use for people with vision loss. In 2006, Canon launched the Voice Operation Kit, which allows people with vision loss to use the basic functions of a copy machine, or administer a company's entire copy room or document production center.

New media giant Google is on the accessibility forefront. In 2006 Google launched an audio CAPTCHA so that people with vision loss could independently use services such as Gmail and Blogger. In addition, Google has pioneered and launched an accessible search tool designed to identify and prioritize web pages that are more usable for people with vision loss.

NIB's Business Leaders Program
The National Industries for the Blind (NIB) is changing the employment landscape for blind and visually impaired people. In 2003 NIB established its Business Leaders Program to prepare individuals who are blind for careers in business. The program provides educational and employment opportunities needed to transform high-potential employees into capable leaders and successful business people.

The Center for Legal and Court Technology
The Center for Legal and Court Technology (CLCT) is making the U.S. legal system more accessible to people with vision loss through the appropriate use of technology. In 2006 CLCT successfully completed an experimental Laboratory Trial to test technology that could be used to assist people with disabilities in participating in the American court system.

The Access Award presentation and reception will be held on Friday, March 23, 2007, at 4:30 pm at the AFB Center on Vision Loss, Dallas, TX.

Corinne Kirchner Research Award
The Corinne Kirchner Research Award honors individuals whose leadership and dedication illuminate the most pressing needs of people with vision loss through timely, innovative, and authoritative research.

Corinne Kirchner has amassed a substantial record of research that is widely quoted and referenced throughout the blindness field and beyond. Author of numerous articles, publications, and research reports, her work has addressed education, employment, health, "livable communities," computer usage, and the area for which she is perhaps best known, statistics on the number of people with vision loss.

The Corinne Kirchner Award will be presented during the M.C. Migel Awards Luncheon on Saturday, March 24, 2007, at 12:00 pm at the Dallas/Addison Marriott Quorum by the Galleria, Dallas, TX.

The American Foundation for the Blind would like to thank the Delta Gamma Foundation, Verizon, and AT&T for supporting these awards ceremonies and the greater Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute.


Adrianna Montague-Gray
AFB Communications

copy of AFB's news letter