NEW YORK (May 6, 2015)—The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) today announced the names of four honorees who will receive the prestigious Helen Keller Achievement Awards at a special gala in New York City on June 18th.

Awardees include Apple Inc. for breakthroughs in accessible technology, actor Charlie Cox for his portrayal of a blind superhero, Ward Marston a musician/recording engineer with vision loss, and Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. for pioneering treatment of a circadian rhythm disorder, Non-24 Sleep-Wake Disorder that can affect people who are totally blind.

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

AFB is recognizing Apple for VoiceOver, a gesture-based screen reader that allows users to hear a description of everything happening on the display, and other features that make iPhone, iPad and other iOS devices accessible to people with vision loss. Apple received an AFB Access Award in 2009 for its trailblazing engineering of accessible products and continues its extraordinary efforts to make their products accessible for everyone.

Charlie Cox, a British actor who has appeared in major UK and US television and film productions, is being honored for introducing a new generation of audiences to the iconic Marvel character Matt Murdock in Marvel's Daredevil, a new original series on Netflix. After being exposed to radioactive material as a child, Murdock went blind but found that the accident also granted him heightened senses. Along with his special training, Murdock uses his special abilities to fight crime in modern day Hell's Kitchen, New York.

Musician and band leader Ward Marston is being recognized for a distinguished career both as a performer and musical historian and preservationist. He has re-mastered hundreds of classical recordings and jammed with the likes of Count Basie traveling widely with the Ward Marston Orchestra and performing at major events and venues across the country.

Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. is being recognized for scientific innovation in developing the first and only FDA approved treatment for people who are totally blind and living with Non-24. Non-24 is a disorder that disrupts the body’s internal clock and can lead to sleep challenges, especially for people with total blindness. This is primarily due to the lack of light perception needed to keep a body's internal rhythm in sync with a 24-hour day.

AFB's Helen Keller Achievement Awards gala will bring together leaders from business, education, government, the arts and entertainment. It will take place on Thursday evening, June 18, 2015 at the J.W. Marriott Essex House New York, 160 Central Park South.

About AFB's 2015 Helen Keller Achievement Award Recipients

Apple Inc. deeply believes in advancing humanity by making its products accessible to people with various disabilities. Intuitive by design, Macs, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple Watch come with assistive features that allow people with disabilities to experience the fun and function of the Apple ecosystem. With these innovative technologies built right in, Apple products become powerful and affordable assistive devices.

Charlie Cox is an English actor best known for his starring role as Tristan Thorne in Stardust and for his supporting role in the second and third seasons of HBO's Boardwalk Empire. Cox plays the title role of Matt Murdock in Marvel's Daredevil series released on Netflix.

Ward Marston is a Philadelphia-based musician, band leader, and music restorer who has received numerous accolades for re-mastering classical recordings ranging from Rachmaninoff to ragtime. Blind since infancy, he has jammed with Count Basie, played piano at the White House, and organ at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, among many other memorable gigs.

Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: VNDA) is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of products for the treatment of central nervous system disorders. In addition to Hetlioz®, it also produces Fanapt®, a pharmaceutical for the treatment of schizophrenia with other products in the pipeline.

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:
Tina Chapman

For Tickets or Dinner Journal information:
Suzette Williams
Development Associate