by James Gashel
From the Editor: James Gashel is secretary of the National Federation of the Blind and chairs the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award Committee. Here is his announcement about the 2019 Bolotin Awards program:
The National Federation of the Blind is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards. These prestigious awards, granted each year as funds permit, seek to honor initiatives, innovations, and individuals that are a positive force in the lives of blind people and advance the ultimate goal of helping them transform their dreams into reality. Award winners will be publicly recognized during the 2019 annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Las Vegas, Nevada. Each recipient will be given a cash award in an amount determined by the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award Committee and will also be honored with an engraved medallion and plaque.
Dr. Jacob W. Bolotin (1888-1924) was a pioneering blind physician, the first in history who achieved that goal despite the tremendous challenges faced by blind people in his time. Not only did he realize his own dream; he went on to support and inspire many others in making their own dreams a reality. The awards which bear his name are made possible through the generosity of his late nephew and niece. Their bequest, the Alfred and Rosalind Perlman Trust, allows the National Federation of the Blind to present the annual cash awards.
As chronicled in his biography, The Blind Doctor by Rosalind Perlman, Dr. Bolotin fought ignorance and prejudice to gain entrance to medical school and the medical profession. He became one of the most respected physicians in Chicago during his career, which spanned the period from 1912 until his death in 1924. He was particularly known for his expertise in diseases of the heart and lungs. During his successful career Dr. Bolotin used his many public speaking engagements to advocate for employment of the blind and the full integration of the blind into society. Interested in young people in general and blind youth in particular, Dr. Bolotin established the first Boy Scout troop consisting entirely of blind boys and served as its leader.
Jacob Bolotin’s wife Helen had a sister whose husband died suddenly, leaving her to raise a son, Alfred Perlman. The Perlmans moved in with the Bolotins when Alfred was eleven, and for four years (until Jacob Bolotin’s untimely death at age thirty-six), "Uncle Jake" became Alfred's surrogate father. Alfred later married Rosalind, and the couple worked on a book about Dr. Bolotin's life. After Alfred's death in 2001, Rosalind dedicated the rest of her life to completing and publishing the book. Then, upon her death and as part of her will, Rosalind left a bequest to the Santa Barbara Foundation and the National Federation of the Blind to produce Dr. Bolotin's biography and establish the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award program. Her book, The Blind Doctor: The Jacob Bolotin Story, has been published by and is available from Blue Point Books, www.BluePointBooks.com.
Past award winners have:
In 2019 the National Federation of the Blind will again recognize individuals and organizations that have distinguished themselves in accordance with the criteria established to receive a Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award. The committee will determine both the number of awards and the value of each cash award presented. The Federation determines the total amount to be distributed each year based on income received from the trust supporting the award program. The award categories for each year are blind individuals, sighted individuals, and organizations, corporations, or other entities. Individuals may apply on their own behalf or may submit a third-party nomination, or the committee may also consider other individual or organizational candidates.
Individuals: Only individuals over eighteen years of age may be considered for a Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award. Applicants must demonstrate that they have shown substantial initiative and leadership in improving the lives of the blind. Examples of such initiative include but are not limited to developing products, technologies, or techniques that increase the independence of the blind; directing quality programs or agencies for the blind; or mentoring other blind people. All individual applicants or third-party applicants nominating other individuals must demonstrate that the work to be recognized has been conducted within the twelve months preceding the application and/or that the work is continuing. Applications by or on behalf of individuals must include at least one letter of recommendation from a person familiar with or directly affected by the work to be recognized.
Organizations: Organizations may apply for a Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award in order to further programs, services, technology, or techniques of unique and outstanding merit that have assisted and will continue to assist the blind. Applications from third parties nominating an organization will also be considered. The organization category includes corporations, nonprofit organizations, or other entities, such as a specific division within an organization. Organizations or third-party applicants must demonstrate that the programs or services to be recognized include substantial participation by blind people as developers, mentors, administrators, or executives, and not merely as clients, consumers, or beneficiaries. For example, an organization operating a program for blind youth might demonstrate that a substantial number of the counselors, teachers, or mentors involved in the program are blind. The organization or third-party applicant must demonstrate that it has substantially aided blind people within the twelve months prior to application and that an award would support efforts to build on previous successes. The application must also include at least one testimonial from a blind person who has benefited substantially from the programs or services.
To qualify for an award both individuals and organizations must be headquartered in the United States of America, and their work must primarily benefit the blind of the United States.
More information, including an online application, can be found on the National Federation of the Blind website at https://nfb.org/bolotin.
Online submission of nominations, letters of support, and other relevant materials is strongly encouraged, but applications sent by mail and postmarked by the deadline will also be accepted. The 2019 deadline for application submission is April 15. Recipients chosen by the committee will be individually notified of their selection no later than May 15. Receipt of all complete applications will be acknowledged; only those applicants chosen to receive an award will be contacted by May 15. All decisions of the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award Committee are final.
The awards will be presented in July during the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind. Individuals selected to receive an award must appear in person, not send a representative. Organizations may send an individual representative, preferably their chief executive officer. Recipient candidates must confirm in writing that they will appear in person to accept the award at the National Federation of the Blind annual convention. Failure to confirm attendance for the award presentation by June 1 will result in forfeiture of the award.
Those employed full-time by the National Federation of the Blind may not apply for a Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award for work performed within the scope of their employment. Students may not apply for both a Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award and a National Federation of the Blind Scholarship in the same year.