Skip to Content

AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

American Foundation for the Blind Celebrates 20th Anniversary of the Helen Keller Achievement Awards and Announces 2016 Honorees

NEW YORK (May 3, 2016)—The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) today announced the recipients of the 20th annual Helen Keller Achievement Awards, which acknowledge those who have made extraordinary efforts to improve quality of life for people with vision loss. Honorees will be fêted at a special 20th anniversary gala in New York City on June 16th.

Awardees include: Comcast Corporation, for breakthroughs in making its Xfinity X1 set top box technology and programming accessible to people with vision loss; JPMorgan Chase & Co., for offering accessible personal banking products and customer services; and author/psychotherapist Rebecca Alexander, LCSW-R, MPH, for showing the world how to live an accomplished life in spite of severe vision and hearing loss. David Ushery, Anchor, NBC 4 New York will serve as Master of Ceremonies.

"We are honoring outstanding individuals and companies for their success in improving quality of life for people with vision loss through groundbreaking innovation and inspirational achievement that change perceptions about what it means to be visually impaired," said AFB President & CEO Carl R. Augusto.

This year, AFB is recognizing Comcast Corporation for ensuring people with vision loss have equal access to pop culture and news. In 2015, Comcast made history when it launched the industry's first voice guided TV interface, which allows customers with a visual disability to operate settings and explore programming independently. Comcast made headlines again in 2015 with its video described broadcast of NBC's "The Wiz Live!" — the first live entertainment program in U.S. history to be accessible to people with vision loss. In addition, Comcast makes many of its popular programs accessible to viewers with vision loss through voice controlled remote and by creating an On Demand library of shows and movies that include video description.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is being applauded for its commitment to making its banking and financial services accessible and barrier-free for people with disabilities. Chase offers excellent customer service for people with vision loss and was an early leader in accessibility with the installation of talking ATMs. Since, the company has assembled a team of developers, testers, and advisors who represent an array of disabilities — from blindness and learning disabilities to limited mobility, and more — and provide services that are inclusive and usable. Chase offers brailled billing statements, accessible ATMs, and live assistance for consumers with vision loss, and is committed to making its website and apps accessible to all of its customers.

Rebecca Alexander is a psychotherapist who came to national prominence with the release of her book "Not Fade Away: a Memoir of Senses Lost & Found," in which she shares her journey with vision and hearing loss due to Usher syndrome type III. Her powerful philosophy of positive thinking, physical and emotional well being, and perseverance have inspired thousands of readers across the country to aim higher and reach further.

Leaders from the business, technology, government, arts and entertainment worlds will join AFB in celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Helen Kellen Achievement Awards on Thursday evening, June 16, 2016 at the J.W. Marriott Essex House New York, 160 Central Park South.

About AFB's 2016 Helen Keller Achievement Award Recipients

Comcast Corporation is a global media and technology company with two primary businesses, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and also provides these services to businesses. NBCUniversal operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures, and Universal Parks and Resorts.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is a worldwide leader in financial products and services from retail and commercial banking to online and mobile-based platforms. It continually seeks to improve its product lines so that consumers and clients with disabilities can take full advantage of all the company has to offer.

Rebecca Alexander, LCSW-R, MPH is a psychotherapist who works with individuals, couples, and groups, specializing in the treatment of addiction, anxiety, and mood disorders. She is a Lululemon Athletica ambassador and an extreme athlete who teaches spin classes. In 2015, she climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and swam from Alcatraz to shore in the San Francisco Bay. Rebecca began losing her vision and hearing as a teenager due to Usher syndrome type III, a rare genetic disorder, and now has just 10 degrees of vision and is completely deaf without the use of a hearing aid and a cochlear implant. Her determination to live a rich and meaningful life while achieving her goals, is inspiring people with and without disabilities across the globe.

David Ushery, is the Emmy award-winning Anchor for NBC 4 New York’s 5:30 P.M. Monday through Friday newscast and at 12-noon Thursday and Friday. He has covered many breaking news stories including Hurricane Sandy, the Newtown elementary school shootings, and papal news from the Vatican in Rome. Previously, he was the lead evening reporter for WFSB-TV in Hartford, Connecticut and reported for the Hartford Courant and the Los Angeles Times. He has won numerous awards including the national and New York Emmys, the Edward R. Murrow Award, and the Excellence in Journalism Award from the Public Relations Society of America.

About AFB

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. AFB fulfills its mission by 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. Headquartered in New York, AFB is proud to house the Helen Keller Archives & Gallery and honor the more than 40 years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly for AFB.

Press Contact:
Vivienne Heston
Tel: 212-502-7625
Email: vheston@afb.net

Tickets or Dinner Journal information:
Suzette Williams, Development Associate
Tel: 212-502-7621
Email: swilliams@afb.net

services icon Directory of Services

book icon Featured Book

Foundations of Education, Third EditionNEW! Foundations of Education, Third Edition

Foundations of Education, Third Edition

Join Our Mission

Your generosity makes our programs possible.