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for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

American Foundation for the Blind Announces 2014 Access Award Winners

Fleksy, Image Searcher, Inc., Independence Science and The Metropolitan Museum of Art all lauded for accessible design

New York (February 11, 2014)—Think about some of the day-to-day activities you might take for granted. Texting friends, taking pictures or using apps on your smartphone. Studying the periodic table of elements or completing laboratory experiments. Visiting a museum. Such tasks are now easier for people who are blind or visually impaired, thanks to organizations such as Fleksy, Image Searcher, Inc., Independence Science and The Metropolitan Museum of Art—which is why they have all been selected as 2014 Access Award recipients by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB).

"By focusing on making their products and services accessible to everyone, including people with visual disabilities, this year's Access Award recipients have leveled the playing field for the more than 20 million Americans with vision loss," said Carl R. Augusto, president and CEO of the AFB. "We are honored to publicly recognize these organizations for their commitment to equality and accessibility for all."

Chosen annually, the Access Awards honor individuals, corporations and organizations that eliminate or substantially reduce inequities faced by people with vision loss.

About the 2014 Access Award Recipients:

Fleksy's patent pending, predictive text technology has made communicating easier and faster, both for those with visual impairments and without. It is rare to see a mainstream product that works equally well for individuals with vision loss. Fleksy is an excellent example of universal design.

Image Searcher, Inc. created TapTapSee, a mobile camera app for the blind and visually impaired to have an "extra set of eyes." It identifies photographed objects and speaks them back to the user via VoiceOver. This affordable and portable tool has been lauded by many in the blindness community for improving the ability of people with vision loss to live independently.

Independence Science's contribution to "universal accessibility" is best summed in its vision statement: We visualize a science classroom that exhibits the full integration of students with disabilities. The company's work to increase hands-on science experiences for individuals with vision loss has paved the way for future generations of researchers, thanks to their commitment to ensuring hands-on experiences for all science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students, including and especially those with visual impairments.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the nation's largest and most distinguished museum, engages and delights around six million visitors each year—including those with vision loss. The Museum has opened the world of art to people with visual impairments through descriptive and touch tours of original works of art and other multisensory programs, including an innovative drawing class for people with vision loss, and through accommodations such as tactile graphics and information in large-print, audio and braille formats.

Previous award recipients include Apple, Inc., Google, Panasonic, AT&T and Major League Baseball. The 2014 Access Awards will be presented to the recipients on February 28, 2014, at the AFB Leadership Conference in Brooklyn, NY.


About AFB

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. Headquartered in New York, AFB is proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the more than 40 years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB.

About the American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference

The American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference (previously known as the Josephine L. Taylor Leadership Institute) seeks to improve the quality of programs and services to blind and visually impaired children and adults. AFBLC provides a forum in which leadership personnel, in both education and rehabilitation, have the opportunity to increase their awareness of student and client needs, expand their knowledge, refine leadership skills and share concerns and strategies. The Migel Medal, Access Awards, Corinne Kirchner Research Award, Gallagher Award, and Stephen Garff Marriott Award are presented at the AFB Leadership Conference. The 2014 AFB Leadership Conference is made possible by the generous sponsorship of Google, Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Delta Gamma Foundation, IBM, AT&T, Canon, CTIA, Microsoft, Verizon and many others.


John Mackin
AFB Communications

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