American Foundation for the Blind Announces 2011 Access Award Winners

CBS, Walt Disney, Accessible Twitter and Lexmark Cited for Making Products Accessible to Visually Impaired Users

NEW YORK, Feb. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A major television network that is home to top-rated dramas "CSI" and "NCIS" … the parent company of the world's premiere theme park … an innovative provider of printing and imaging products and services … and creators of a new technology that has brought greater accessibility to the fastest-growing social networking platform are the winners of the 2011 Access Awards, which were announced today by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB).

The CBS Television Network, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, Lexmark International, Inc. and Accessible Twitter are being honored for their "bold and successful strides toward creating new standards of accessibility and a better quality of life for people who are blind or visually impaired," said Carl R. Augusto, AFB president and CEO.

"Too often, swift advances in technology bring the rewards of convenience and entertainment to an eager world while inadvertently leaving those who are visually impaired behind," Augusto said. "Each of this year's Access Award winners displayed a real commitment to making sure their products and services are equally accessible to everyone. And with the growing number of people with vision loss, focusing on accessibility is not only the right thing to do, it's also a savvy business decision."

About the 2011 Access Award Recipients:

Accessible Twitter, created by Dennis Lembree, is an alternative version of the popular online social network. The website corrects the inaccessibility of the original Twitter.com design. Twitter users can go to the Accessible Twitter site, log in with their usual Twitter account details and find the same core functions and features but with many enhancements, including optimization for screen reader use, full keyboard accessibility and support for older browsers and even text-only browsers.

CBS — Since 2002 the CBS Television Network has voluntarily and continuously provided video description to its viewers. The popular CBS programs "Criminal Minds," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "NCIS" and "NCIS: Los Angeles," along with all movies and mini-series are now just as exciting for visually impaired audiences. CBS is a television industry leader committed to making some of its most popular programs accessible for those viewers who are blind or visually impaired.

Lexmark, a global leader in printing and imaging products, software, solutions and services, is being honored for its Lexmark Accessibility Solution, a Web-based application that gives visually impaired individuals unprecedented user-friendly command of the copy, fax, scan and e-mail features of Lexmark's many multifunction products. The application allows users to use their browser — rather than the device's touch screen — to configure tasks. In an AFB product evaluation of the Lexmark Accessibility Solution, writer Darren Burton wrote: "We congratulate Lexmark for taking the initiative to create this access solution in a product category where there are few options for accessibility."

Walt Disney Parks & Resorts in 2010 introduced a new device at its U.S. theme parks that provides audio description for its many spectacular — and hugely popular — rides and attractions. Guests with visual disabilities who visit Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida and Disneyland® Resort in California can explore the parks with unprecedented freedom with the help of a 7.2-ounce wireless device. Disney's Handheld Device provides audio descriptions of park surroundings and rides for guests with visual disabilities, closed captioning for guests who are deaf, as well as provides other access features at over 51 attractions domestically. Disney's Handheld Device also lets guests choose the type of information they would like to receive about outdoor areas, from architectural elements to the location of the nearest restroom via an interactive audio menu.

"With keen eyes for innovation and admirable awareness of the needs of an important constituency, this year's Access Award winners have created precedents that competitors in their respective industries should emulate," said Augusto. "Their ingenuity reminds us of what's possible."  

Chosen annually, the Access Awards honor individuals, corporations and organizations that are eliminating or substantially reducing inequities faced by people who are blind or visually impaired. Some of the previous award recipients include Apple, Inc., Google, Code Factory, Ski for Light and Canon USA, Inc. The awards will be presented on Friday, March 11, 2011 at the Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute at the downtown Seattle Renaissance Hotel.

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. AFB's priorities include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. AFB is also proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the more than forty years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB. For more information visit us online at www.afb.org.

SOURCE American Foundation for the Blind



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