American Foundation for the Blind Announces 2012 Access Award Winners

NEW YORK, March 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --What do the leaders of "America's pastime," a free open-source screen-reading software company, an orientation and mobility (O&M) program, and the founder of Camp Abilities have in common? All have taken successful strides toward creating a better quality of life for people who are blind or visually impaired, which is why they were named the recipients of the 2012 Access Awards, announced today by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB).

Chosen annually, the Access Awards honor individuals, corporations and organizations that eliminate or substantially reduce inequities faced by people who are blind or visually impaired. Major League Baseball (MLB), NV Access, Leader Dogs for the Blind, and Lauren Lieberman, Ph.D. represent this year's recipients for creating new standards of accessibility and a better quality of life for people who are blind or visually impaired. Through MLB.com all live game streaming broadcasts have been made accessible, NV Access created a free screen-reading program, Leader Dogs created a week-long O&M program, and Dr. Lieberman founded a non-profit aimed at increasing physical fitness in children with visual impairments.

"The 2012 Access Award recipients have directly impacted the lives of people with vision loss, having increased access to entertainment, technology, transportation and physical fitness," 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 commitment to ensuring their products and programs are accessible to all. With the growing number of people with vision loss, focusing on accessibility is not only the right thing to do, it's also a smart business move."

About the 2012 Access Award Recipients:

Major League Baseball:
MLB.com stepped up its game by working to make streaming broadcasts accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired through the League's official Web site, as well as with the MLB.com At Bat 11 app. These services allow people with vision loss to use their iPhone or iPod Touch to get the latest news, stats, rosters and live game streaming broadcasts. This initiative illustrates MLB.com's commitment to providing new technologies and resources for people with vision loss. Also within the past year, MLB has donated $1 million to a new lab and learning center in Arizona that provides access to advanced assistive vision technology to more than 2,000 children with visual impairments.

NV Access is an Australian non-profit dedicated to the ideal that access to technology should not incur extra costs for blind and vision-impaired users. To that end, NV Access offers NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA), a free open-source screen-reading program that allows both portability and access for persons who are blind to use a computer. The program can be operated from a USB drive and does not require installation. It is compatible with Microsoft Windows, provides feedback in synthetic voice or braille and supports over 20 languages.

Leader Dogs for the Blind is well known as a reputable provider of guide dogs for people who are blind or visually impaired. They also offer the Accelerated Mobility Program, a free, week-long, O&M training program designed to meet an overwhelming need for quality O&M instruction. Many areas lack qualified instructors who can teach people who are blind or visually impaired to travel safely and independently through their environments. This program meets these unique needs, free of charge.

Lauren Lieberman, Ph.D. is a professor at SUNY Brockport and known author on Adapted Physical Education. Dr, Lieberman founded the non-profit Camp Abilities, which has helped create 14 sports and recreation camps in the United States as well as four internationally. These camps offer youth with visual impairments the opportunity to learn and compete in Paralympics and adapted sports and recreation activities. To date, Camp Abilities has brought sports opportunities to over 1,800 children with visual impairments or deafblindness, and trained over 3,000 future teachers.

Previous award recipients include Apple, Inc., Google, the CBS Television Network and Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. The 2012 Access Awards will be presented to the recipients on May 4, 2012 at the AFB Leadership Conference in St. Pete Beach, FL.

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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