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Honoring Susan Jay Spungin

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The Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB) joins the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) in saluting Susan Jay Spungin, vice president for International Programs and Special Projects at AFB, and treasurer of the World Blind Union (WBU), who is formally retiring on December 31, 2008, after 36 years at AFB. Known worldwide as an expert of depth and authority on the education and rehabilitation of persons who are blind or visually impaired as well as a specialist on braille literacy, Dr. Spungin's eloquence, advocacy, and strong commitment to broad initiatives on critical issues have profoundly influenced the quality of life for countless visually impaired individuals and the professionalism of service providers in the United States and abroad.

Over the course of her 44-year career, Susan Spungin's name became synonymous with leadership. Known for her force of personality, clear-eyed intelligence, and exceptional ability to identify vital objectives and unite diverse groups in collective action to address them, Dr. Spungin was recently recognized by her friends and colleagues who dedicated a stone in her honor on the Friends of Leaders and Legends Wall of Tribute at the Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field housed at the American Printing House for the Blind. She also has just been named a recipient of AFB's M. C. Migel Medal, the highest award bestowed in the visual impairment field. In describing the breadth and range of Dr. Spungin's accomplishments and influence, Carl R. Augusto, AFB's president and CEO, remarked that "Susan Spungin has won every major award in the blindness field. And in addition I don't know anyone who has more friends and admirers."

Susan Jay Spungin began her studies in visual impairment at San Francisco State University, where she met Georgie Lee Abel, and after working as an itinerant teacher in California in the mid-1960s, worked under Josephine L. Taylor at the New Jersey Commission for the Blind. In 1972, she was recruited to work at AFB as a national consultant in education, became director of AFB's national consultants in the 1980s, and went on to become associate executive director and vice president. The list of her extraordinary contributions during her 36 years at AFB includes the publication of the groundbreaking Competency-Based Curriculum for Teachers of the Visually Handicapped: A National Study; her work in defining the special needs of children with visual impairments and outlining for state and local administrators the basic services needed for their appropriate education, as reflected in P. L. 94-142, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act; the founding of the National Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired; the inauguration of a nationwide initiative to promote the teaching of braille to students with visual impairments and legislative efforts in support of braille literacy; the establishment of personnel preparation programs for professionals working with children who are blind; the definition of the role and work of teachers specializing in the education of children who are blind or visually impaired as well as the promulgation of standards and position papers outlining this work; the launching of a national campaign to ensure the timely delivery of braille instructional materials to school-children in the United States; and continuous energetic efforts on behalf of personnel and leadership recruitment in the field of visual impairment. Because it is not possible to catalog every significant accomplishment of Dr. Spungin's in this brief tribute, readers are encouraged to read more about her important and far-reaching work in the Speaker's Corner that follows in this issue, as well as in the From the Field item announcing her retirement that appeared in the July 2008 issue of the journal.

Through her dedicated efforts and outstanding achievements, her work elevated the quality of educational programs for visually impaired students as well as the professional development of the educators who work with them and has had an unmatched impact on the lives of children with visual impairments, their families, and professionals. We invite readers to join us and her admirers and friends throughout the world in wishing her happiness and success in the next phase of her remarkable life.

--The Editors

Editor's note: A longtime contributor to the literature of the field, Dr. Spungin will serve as guest editor to JVIB throughout 2009 as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille.

Send Susan Jay Spungin a Note

Readers are encouraged to send Susan Jay Spungin a note upon her retirement in the JVIB message board,

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The Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (JVIB)--the international, interdisciplinary journal of record on blindness and visual impairment that publishes research and practice
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