HARRISBURG, Pa., May 23, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS), and the Advisory Committee for the Blind of Pennsylvania hosted the 2017 Blindness Awareness Expo at the State Capitol Building today. L&I Secretary Kathy Manderino spoke at the event on the importance of access for individuals with vision impairments, and connecting professionals from both the educational and rehabilitation communities to provide comprehensive services to Pennsylvanians.
"OVR works to help Pennsylvanians who are blind or visually impaired overcome challenges in education, employment and independence, and access life-changing technology and services that make a difference in the daily lives of those individuals and their families" said Secretary Manderino. "By providing training, equipment, advocacy and support to individuals experiencing vision loss, we ensure that they receive the tools necessary to achieve their career and personal goals."
The expo included an awards ceremony, where awards for outstanding high school and elementary school student and outstanding employee/employer were presented, as well as an independence award, and an equal access award.
Attendees to the expo explored how Pennsylvanians who are blind or visually impaired overcome challenges in education, employment, and independence. BBVS offered simulations of varying visual impairments, while other vendors and organizations gave hands-on demonstrations with guide dogs, tools, and services that facilitate living with a visual impairment.
This year's Master of Ceremonies was Carlton Anne Cook Walker, a certified teacher of students with blindness and visual and multiple impairments. She served as an itinerant teacher of blind and low-vision students in South Central Pennsylvania for more than six years. Currently, she serves as Project Manager for the NFB BELL Academy (National Federation of the Blind Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning Academy), a nationwide program which provides summer learning experiences for hundreds of blind and low-vision students ages four through twelve.
In Pennsylvania, it is estimated that more than 215,000 individuals aged 40 and under experience severe vision problems. Of those, more than 69,000 experience total blindness. For those over the age of 50, more than 1.76 million suffer from a severe visual impairment.
Following is a list of award recipients:
Outstanding Elementary School Student #AccessEqualsSuccess in Education Video Award Nathan Craig. Watch Nathan's video: https://youtu.be/45KFlBXPtvA.
Outstanding Middle School Student #AccessEqualsSuccess in Education Video Award Jaylen Hallowell and Simon Bonenfant. Watch Jaylen's video: https://youtu.be/Sivw-km-UFc. Watch Simon's video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwZjl1sTeXk.
Outstanding High School Student #AccessEqualsSuccess in Education Video Award Kayla McDonough. Watch Kayla's video: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEn8v11j1YQ.
Outstanding Individual #AccessEqualsSuccess in Employment Award
Outstanding Employer #AccessEqualsSuccess in Employment Award
Bayer HealthCare, LLC
Outstanding Individual #AccessEqualsSuccess in Independence Award
Outstanding Business #AccessEqualsSuccess in Independence Award
Great Lakes Regional Braille Readers Are Leaders Award
Media Contact: Lindsay Bracale, 717-787-7530
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry