Missoula, Montana, USA (PRWEB) July 7, 2008
On Independence Day, 2008, the National Federation of the Blind awarded the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award to George Kerscher, Ph.D. for his efforts to make information accessible to people who are blind or who have print disabilities. Kerscher, who is blind, coined the term "print disabled" to describe people who cannot effectively read print because of a visual, physical, perceptual, developmental, cognitive, or learning disability. Kerscher has said that access to information is a fundamental human right and has worked tirelessly for twenty years to ensure that right for those with a print disability.
Since 1997, Kerscher has led the staff of the DAISY Consortium. Now the organization's Secretary-General, Kerscher is steadfast in his pursuit of the Consortium's vision of a world where people with print disabilities have equal access to information and knowledge, without delay or additional expense.
Gary Wunder, Secretary of the National Federation of the Blind and Chairman of the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award Committee, presented the award to Kerscher, commending him by saying, "Dr. George Kerscher has been a tireless and effective advocate for full and equal access to all kinds of information by the blind, and his work has helped to give us access to the printed word to a degree that has never before been possible in all of human history. These efforts have substantially increased the ability of blind Americans to become productive members of society and to compete with our sighted peers, and that is why Dr. Kerscher's work is deserving of the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award."
In accepting the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award, Kerscher said, "I am truly honoured and humbled to receive this award named for Dr. Bolotin. His pioneering spirit and tenacity inspire everyone who works for equality in education and access to information for persons who are blind or print disabled."
About George Kerscher, PhD
The symptoms of Retinitis Pigmentosa began to affect Kerscher in his late teen years. He became a high school English teacher and developed a keen interest in computer technology. As the disease progressed, Kerscher decided to change professions and exchanged his high school classroom for the computer science labs at the University of Montana. From his first days as a graduate student, Kerscher realized that few of the required texts were available in a format he could use. Kerscher knew that there must be a better way to access information, and he knew that the solution lay in technology - in computerized books for people with print disabilities. He founded Computerized Books for the Blind in 1988 to demonstrate to publishers and consumers the effectiveness of electronic books for braille production and for direct access via adapted computers. Kerscher's subsequent positions with Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic and the DAISY Consortium, as well as his service on numerous prominent committees, including the National Information Standards Organization, the Web Accessibility Initiative, and the International Digital Publishing Forum, have benefited individuals with print disabilities throughout the United States and the world.
About the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award
The Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award is named for the first congenitally blind man to receive a medical license. Dr. Bolotin (1888-1924) lived and practiced in Chicago during the early part of the twentieth century and was particularly known for his expertise on diseases of the heart and lungs. He used his many public speaking engagements to advocate for the full inclusion of the blind in education, employment, and all other aspects of society. The awards named for him are presented each year by the National Federation of the Blind to individuals and organizations who have made substantial contributions toward achieving the goal of the full integration of the blind into society on the basis of equality. The awards are funded by the Alfred and Rosalind Perlman Trust, created by a bequest from Dr. Bolotin's nephew and niece. The first Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards were presented at the 2008 convention of the National Federation of the Blind.
About the DAISY Consortium
The DAISY Standard (officially ANSI/NISO z39.86 Specifications for the Digital Talking Book) has revolutionized the reading experience for people with print disabilities around the globe. DAISY, the Digital Accessible Information SYstem, is the world's most widely used assistive technology for reading. Formed in 1996 by like-minded organizations around the world, today the DAISY Consortium consists of nearly 70 non-profit organizations representing 35 different countries and more than 20 for-profit companies which provide products and services to meet the needs of the DAISY community and the people it serves. These organizations and companies are working together to develop and promote international standards and technologies which enable equal access to information and knowledge by all people with print disabilities and which also benefit the wider community. More information about the DAISY Consortium and the DAISY Standard is available at http://www.daisy.org/.