(PRWEB) May 23, 2012
The Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC) has received a $6 million gift from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. Operated by Helen Keller Services For The Blind and authorized by an Act of Congress in 1967, HKNC is the only national vocational and rehabilitation organization that exclusively serves individuals with combined vision and hearing loss. The Center’s Mission is “to enable each person who is deaf-blind in the United States to live and work in the community of their choice.”
The funds from this grant will be used to establish the Information, Research and Professional Development department, which will have a three-fold purpose: 1) to conduct research to identify the demography and needs of Americans with combined vision and hearing loss; 2) to identify effective practices for working with youths and adults who are deaf-blind in collaboration with universities, personnel preparation programs, and research projects throughout the country; and, 3) to disseminate these best practices nationally via professional training initiatives. These efforts will substantially increase the number of professionals capable of working with and supporting people who are deaf-blind in their local communities, thus fulfilling HKNC’s Mission.
“Deaf-blindness is caused by a variety of genetic conditions, prematurity, aging, accident and trauma. When provided the opportunity to receive training from qualified and experienced instructors, deaf-blind individuals thrive in all areas of our society and lead productive, satisfying lives. HKNC has a wonderful record of educating, training and developing professional practitioners. This incredibly generous grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust will allow us to expand our efforts to bring together researchers and practitioners and create new opportunities for people who are deaf-blind,” said Christopher Maher, Chairman of the Board of Helen Keller Services For The Blind.
The Center has provided services for more than 40 years and demand has increased tremendously in recent years. Baby Boomers and their parents are experiencing vision loss due to glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetes, and hearing loss due to aging. This group alone accounts for an estimated 1.2 million individuals in the United States who are seeking information, support and services through the Helen Keller National Center. Through this gift, the Center will also conduct seminars, and offer informational videos, webinars and on-site training.
“The Helmsley Trust is pleased to advance the work of the Helen Keller National Center in its role as the only organization working nationally on the tremendous needs of deaf-blind youth and adults,” said Rich McKeon, Program Director of the Trust.
About The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits in fields such as health and medical research, social services, education, conservation, the development and security of Israel, and other areas. Since 2008, when the Trust began its active grant-making, it has committed more than $560 million to a wide range of charitable organizations. For more information, visit http://helmsleytrust.org
About Helen Keller Services For The Blind (HKSB) and The Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC)
Founded in 1893 as The Industrial Home For The Blind, HKSB has been developing and operating support programs for the Blind for almost 120 years, including mobility training, preschool education, senior programs, and residential services (http://www.helenkeller.org). In 1962, HKSB inaugurated the Anne Sullivan Macy Program to serve the Deaf-Blind which led to the 1967 Congressional authorization that created the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC), http://www.hknc.org. HKNC’s growth was further supported by the launch of the Sands Point campus in 1976. For more than forty years, the Center has been a driving force in helping people who are deaf-blind throughout the United States lead independent lives and work in the community of their choice. Through a network of Regional Offices, Affiliate agencies, and comprehensive rehabilitation training program at its headquarters, HKNC offers an array of national programs for individuals who are deaf-blind, their families and the local agencies that serve them.
Joseph McNulty, Executive Director, Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults, 516-944-8900
Christopher D. Maher, Chairman, 203-251-8265