WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 4, 2020)—The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) today announced the three honorees who will receive the prestigious Helen Keller Achievement Awards at a special gala on March 25, 2020, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia.

The recipients are The American Printing House for the Blind, for its ongoing commitment to accessibility and a future that belongs to everyone; Dr. Chieko Asakawa, for her life’s work in furthering accessibility research and development; and Procter & Gamble (P&G), for prioritizing inclusive design and an inclusive and diverse work environment. The awards ceremony will be emceed by Dave Steele, known as The Blind Poet.

“All of our honorees exemplify the spirit of Helen Keller in their efforts to create a more inclusive and rewarding quality of life for people who are blind or visually impaired,” said AFB President and CEO Kirk Adams. “The examples set by our longtime friends and partners at the American Printing House for the Blind, Dr. Asakawa, and Procter & Gamble illustrate that the responsibility of building a future of no limits for people with disabilities is everyone’s, and we are proud to recognize their outstanding work.”

The American Printing House for the Blind has been a key steward of the history of blindness for more than 160 years, and recently became the new stewards of AFB’s Helen Keller Archive. The organization has set the standard for how we adapt to and anticipate changes and innovate to meet new demands. This is especially evident in the organization’s recent Code Jumper initiative, a joint venture with Microsoft, which teaches children who are blind the basics of coding in a way that is engaging, accessible, and fun.

Dr. Chieko Asakawa is being honored for her career-spanning work that has effected positive changes in the blindness community for over three decades, from developing digital braille work in the 1980s, to screenreading software via the IBM Home Page Reader in the 1990s, to more recent technologies that enable blind people to be independent in shopping malls, airports and other public spaces through the power of AI and robotics that make urban environment accessible.

Procter & Gamble is being recognized for setting a sterling example through its diversity and inclusion initiatives. P&G has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to disability inclusion and making the company, its brands and services more inclusive for people with disabilities. P&G has made it a priority to incorporate inclusive design and pioneering features into its products, such as tactile markings on shampoo and conditioner bottles. The company has also recently committed to ensuring its advertisements include audio description and started neuro-diversity hiring programs.

About the Helen Keller Achievement Awards

For more than 40 years, Helen Keller was AFB’s leading ambassador, inspiring millions of people around the world. Since 1994, AFB has honored her legacy by recognizing exceptional individuals and organizations that expand possibilities for those who are blind or visually impaired. Artists and musicians, including Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder, have been honored, as well as leading corporations such as Apple, Comcast, Google, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Marriott International, and Netflix. For more information, please visit www.afb.org/hkaa

About the 2020 Helen Keller Achievement Award Recipients

Since 1858, The American Printing House for the Blind has operated in Louisville, Kentucky as the world’s largest nonprofit organization creating accessible learning experiences through educational, workplace, and independent living products and services for people who are blind and visually impaired.

Dr. Chieko Asakawa is an IBM Fellow, on assignment with Carnegie Mellon University to learn how accessibility technologies play a key role in creating opportunities for people with disabilities, including and especially those with vision loss. In 2013, she received the Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon from the government of Japan for her outstanding contributions to accessibility research. Dr. Asakawa holds a B.A. degree in English literature from Otemon Gakuin University, and a Ph.D. in Engineering from the University of Tokyo.

Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Procter & Gamble is a multinational consumer goods corporation with one of the strongest portfolios of trusted, quality leadership brands, including Always®, Bounty®, Gillette®, Herbal Essences®, Oral-B®, Tide® and Vicks®, to name just a few. The P&G community includes operations in approximately 70 countries.

About the American Foundation for the Blind Founded in 1921, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that creates a world of no limits for people who are blind or visually impaired. AFB mobilizes leaders, advances understanding, and champions impactful policies and practices using research and data. AFB is proud to steward the Helen Keller Archive, maintain and expand the digital collection, and honor the more than 40 years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB. Visit: www.afb.org

John Mackin
Manager, Public Relations
212-502-7627 (o)
845-274-4468 (m)