Nationally Recognized “Leader of the Bionic Age” Hugh Herr to Keynote Vision Summit

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Dr. Hugh Herr, Director of the Biomechatronics research Group at the MIT Media Lab and Founder of BionX, will be the Keynote speaker at Solutions in Sight, A Summit to Address the Vision Loss Crisis on Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The conference, the first of its kind to address this topic, will be hosted by the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) at the Microsoft New England Research & Development Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Dr. Hugh Herr, Keynote Speaker

Dr. Hugh Herr

His continuing success story is the perfect example of what we’re trying to accomplish for everyone who faces a disability, especially vision loss.

In 2011, TIME magazine named Herr the “Leader of the Bionic Age”, because of his revolutionary work in the emerging field of biomechatronics, technology that marries human physiology with electromechanics. He continues that work as Director of the Biomechatronics research group at the MIT Media Lab. He is also the Founder of BionX, a leader in the field of prosthetic devices.

After a blizzard during a rock climbing excursion left Hugh Herr stranded, severe frostbite resulted in both his legs being amputated below the knees. As a double amputee, he is uniquely attuned to the need for breakthrough advances in bionic limbs that provide greater mobility and new hope to those with physical disabilities. His story is also a moving testament to what needs to be done to rebuild a life—and make a difference—after a disability.

“The opportunity to have Dr. Herr speak is a tremendous way to inspire our panelists,” said Barbara Salisbury, CEO of Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. “His continuing success story is the perfect example of what we’re trying to accomplish for everyone who faces a disability, especially vision loss.”

A leading visionary in the research and development of personal bionics, Dr. Herr holds a joint appointment at MIT’s Program in Media Arts and Sciences and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. Herr received his B.A. in physics from Millersville University of Pennsylvania, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University. Prior to coming to the Media Lab, he was Assistant Professor at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School.

The Summit’s purpose is to address the problems brought on by the growing crisis of blindness and vision loss among the rapidly growing senior population. The invitation-only event will bring together a diverse mix of professionals—from both the blind and sighted communities—who have a common understanding of the needs of those with disabilities. Their goal: to craft new, outside-the-box solutions to the challenges facing people who are visually impaired.

Notable panelists include Kara Miller, Host and Executive Editor, Innovation Hub, and contributor to WGBH and PRI; Ryan Knighton, Author, Screenwriter, and Performer; and lunchtime speaker Haben Girma, White House Champion of Change, Forbes 30 Under 30 leader, BBC Women of Africa Hero, and the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School.

MABVI hopes that this Summit, and others like it, will focus more attention, and funds, on solving problems related to vision loss. Salisbury adds, “We are showing that with the right support, people who are blind and visually impaired can do anything they set their minds to.”

Solutions in Sight will be held on May 4, 2016, from 8:00am to 3:30pm, at the Microsoft New England Research & Development Center in Cambridge. The Summit will hold panel discussions and working groups, moderated by experts in each field.

Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) is the oldest social service organization in the country that serves adults and elders who are blind or visually impaired. They provide vision rehabilitation services and partner with community and medical groups to create high-impact, cost-effective services.

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MABVI
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