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for the Blind

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AFB Presents Highest Awards at its 2008 National Conference (JLTLI)

Migel, Access, and Gallagher Awards Recognize Individuals, Non-profits, and Corporations

New York, NY (March 10, 2008)—Today the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is pleased to announce the 2008 winners of the prestigious Migel Medals, Access Awards, and Gallagher Award. These awards recognize individuals and companies who have significantly contributed to the blindness and vision loss field.

"This year's recipients have worked toward improving independence for people with vision loss and increasing their access to technology, employment, transportation, and education," said Carl R. Augusto, President and CEO of AFB. "We are honored to publicly recognize these individuals and organizations for their incredible contributions to the field of blindness and low vision."

Migel Medal
AFB's 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 those who are blind or visually impaired.

The 2008 Professional Award recipient is Lou Alonso.

Lou Alonso is both an inspiration and legend among many blindness and deafblindness professionals, having devoted more than 50 years to both fields. She initiated the Teacher Preparation Program in Deafblindness and the Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Training Program at Michigan State University. Under her leadership, students often graduated with dual or triple certifications, resulting in their being better prepared to meet the unique needs of learners with visual impairments. Lou has contributed to more than 30 scholarly articles and papers, including Foundations of Education, Volumes 1 and 2, one of the most widely used texts in the field, and Hand in Hand: It Can Be Done, written during her service as a member of the National Executive Committee for AFB's Deafblind Project.

The 2008 Migel Professional/Lay Volunteer Award recipient is LeRoy Saunders.

LeRoy Saunders is a strong, positive leader in the blindness field, both professionally and personally. Through his leadership at the Virginia Commission for the Blind and the Oklahoma League for the Blind, employment opportunities for people who are blind greatly expanded. He is a dedicated member of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) and the American Council of the Blind, where he once served as president; has served on the board of trustees for the American Foundation for the Blind; and was a U.S. Presidential appointee to the President's Committee for Purchase of Products.

The M.C. Migel Awards Luncheon will take place on Saturday, April 5, 2008, at 12:00 pm at the San Francisco Airport Marriott in Burlingame, California.

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 2008 recipients are:

Code Factory.
Code Factory is making cell phones, smart phones, and PDAs accessible to people with vision loss through Mobile Speak and Mobile Magnifier, screen reading and screen magnification software. At the end of 2007, Code Factory joined forces with AT&T to offer their products at a discounted rate, making accessible cell phones far more affordable for consumers with vision loss.

Serotek
Serotek is giving people access to screen reading software from any computer at any time through System Access To Go. Unlike most screen reading programs, System Access requires no installation, allowing consumers to log in to the program from any Internet accessible computer and have instant access to the web, e-mail, and Microsoft Office.

Lainey Feingold and Linda Dardarian
Lainey Feingold and Linda Dardarian are responsible for pioneering a legal advocacy method that emphasizes collaboration among the disability community, technology providers, businesses, and lawyers. Through their structured negotiations process, the city of San Francisco agreed to install pedestrian signals designed to guide blind and visually impaired pedestrians at more than 80 intersections citywide. Their negotiations work also resulted in creating more than 20 accessibility settlements with corporations, including Bank of America, Safeway, and RadioShack.

The Access Awards presentation and reception will be held on Friday, April 4, 2008, at 5:00 pm at the San Francisco Airport Marriott in Burlingame, California.

The Gallagher Award
The Gallagher Award is given periodically in the memory of William F. Gallagher, AFB's president from 1980 through 1991, and his wife Catherine T. "Kay" Gallagher. The award is intended to honor a blind or visually impaired individual who has demonstrated exemplary participation in the workplace and the community, and has served as an outstanding role model to others who have vision loss.

The 2008 recipient is Anita Aaron.

Anita Aaron served for 17 years as Executive Director of the San Francisco LightHouse, in which time she stabilized and increased the funding of the organization and aggressively sought out blind and visually impaired persons as employees, trainees, and board members. She was a strong advocate for installing accessible pedestrian signals in San Francisco, set high standards for accessibility of information for the LightHouse, and served as a link to the Independent Living Centers as they worked to achieve legislation to improve services through the Department of Rehabilitation.

The Gallagher Award will be presented during the Access Awards presentation and reception on Friday, April 4, 2008, at 5:00 pm at the San Francisco Airport Marriott in Burlingame, California.

The American Foundation for the Blind would like to thank the Delta Gamma Foundation and Verizon for supporting these award ceremonies and the greater 2008 National Conference (JLTLI).

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Media Contact:
Caitlin McFeely
AFB Communications
212-502-7674
cmcfeely@afb.net

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