American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults
Future Reflections
       Convention Issue 2015      AWARDS

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The Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards For 2015

Presented by Jim Gashel

Reprinted from Braille Monitor, Volume 58, Number 8, August-September 2015

Introduction by Jim Gashel: It's my pleasure and privilege on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind to present the Jacob Bolotin Awards this year. The story of Jacob Bolotin's life defines living the life we want. He was born in 1888, he only lived thirty-six years, but in that time he accomplished twice as much as most of us do in living twice as long. Funds to support the Jacob Bolotin Awards are provided in part through a bequest left to the Santa Barbara Foundation and the National Federation of the Blind by the Alfred and Rosalind Perlman Trust. The other funds come directly from the National Federation of the Blind. The award includes a plaque and medallion, which each winner will receive, along with a cash award that I will specify.

Now for the Jacob Bolotin Award winners for 2015. First is the United States Association of Blind Athletes, a $5,000 award recipient. Now, you know some of the things the USABA does, but one thing you may not know--they set up the world's first training center for goalball athletes. This is a professional training center, and USABA is preparing these athletes to win the gold in 2016 at the Paralympics. You know, the USABA, following in the footsteps of Jacob Bolotin, thinks big and plays to win. Join me in saluting the USABA and Mark Lucas, its executive director.

The winners of the 2015 Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards

Mark Lucas: This is truly a tremendous honor for the United States Association of Blind Athletes, and we absolutely look forward to collaborating with the National Federation of the Blind in the future. As Dr. Maurer has said, the future is ours. Thank you very much.

Jim Gashel: The next recipient: Nicolaas tenBroek, $5,000. Now I know you don't think you heard me right, but you did. Nicolaas tenBroek is Dr. Jacobus tenBroek's grandson. He's also a professor of computer science at Heartland Community College in Illinois. If you've ever found an app that is labeled right, and the buttons are logically organized, it's probably because Nicolaas tenBroek was that app developer's professor. He's developed an app accessibility training curriculum, and it's part of the computer science curriculum at Heartland.

Dr. Bolotin didn't confront apps that didn't work, but he did confront massive discrimination. He would be proud to have known Chick (that's Jacobus) and Nick tenBroek. Dr. Bolotin would be proud to know either one of these gentlemen. Please join me on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind and its founder, Jacobus tenBroek, in saluting the grandson, Nicolaas tenBroek, here to receive the award.

Nicolaas tenBroek: Okay, I have to say thanks really quick. But I do want to thank Cary Supalo and Independence Science for all their support in this, and we will donate these monies to continue offering this course. Thank you.

Jim Gashel: University of California at Davis and the Center for Molecular and Biomolecular Informatics: joint award of $10,000. These folks have developed not just an app, but a whole technology that makes it possible for blind people in a fully accessible way to create 3D models of any molecule imaginable. It makes it possible for blind people to compete and succeed in advanced scientific fields. Following in the footsteps of Dr. Jacob Bolotin, these award winners are making it possible for blind people to succeed in careers never before dreamed of. Success in advanced sciences will be the norm rather than the exception. Please join me in saluting UC/Davis and the Center for Molecular and Biomolecular Informatics, represented by Tim Newman, the chief of this program.

Tim Newman: Thank you for having me here, fellow Federationists! On behalf of the AsteriX BVI team I'd like to thank you for this generous acknowledgment. It's been a great honor working with Hoby Wedler over the last few years; I assume you've all heard about this man by now--you know about his personal accomplishments. Being his tactical assistant through his graduate career has truly been a rewarding experience. I've learned firsthand, not only how often the abilities of the blind are misunderstood, but also how blind people are very capable when given the equal right to succeed. Thank you very much, sir.

Jim Gashel: Let me announce our next award recipient: Seedlings Braille Books for Children, $10,000. Seedlings was started by its founder, Debra Bonde, in 1984, and let's look at the vital statistics: over 400,000 publications created since that time and over twenty million pages of Braille material developed since that time, and more every single day. Anybody who knows the NFB BELL programs knows Seedlings. Following in Jacob Bolotin's footsteps, Seedlings is removing barriers and helping blind people live the lives they want. Seedlings knows that literacy is the key to success, and they also know that Braille means literacy. Please join me in saluting Debra Bonde, executive director and founder of Seedlings.

Debra Bonde: Thank you so much. We are so deeply honored to be a recipient of this prestigious award, and we hope and believe that it comes with some of Dr. Bolotin's drive, tenacity, and compassion for others, that we will combine with our own and infuse into the books, which will make them extra special for those who receive them. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Jim Gashel: Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired: this is our final and highest award this year, an award of $20,000. Now SAAVI is an agency for the blind, but that certainly wouldn't get them the Bolotin Award. You got to do more than just be an agency to get the Bolotin Award, that's for darn sure! They're an agency that represents and is modeled on a consumer-empowerment mission, and that's SAAVI. So it's a long, long way from Southern Arizona to central Florida, but let's just hear from the folks from SAAVI, a big, loud Federation cheer! [Cheers, noisemakers] They're all over the room! Rather than peaceful coexistence with the blind, SAAVI embraces our mission of living the lives we want. SAAVI executives and staff know that they succeed when their blind students live the lives they want. So please join me in saluting SAAVI and its executive director, Mike Gordon, for the Jacob Bolotin Grand Prize this year, $20,000. Here's Mike.

Mike Gordon: Where's JAWS when you need it? I want to thank first of all RSA from Arizona Blind Services for their flexibility, which has allowed us to be creative, to think creatively in our programming. Secondly, the Federation's Arizona chapter and in particular Bob Krezmer, the president. Thank you, Bob, thank you, Lynn. And finally I want to thank the SAAVI staff, both past and present, and our students, for without them none of this would be possible. Now I'd like to introduce Amy Porterfield, our associate director.

Amy Porterfield: So I think you all know that SAAVI is committed to building the Federation; let's hear it for the Federation and all our students! [cheers]

Jim Gashel: Thank you very much. So now, Mr. President, I also have a thank you, and that is to you for appointing us to be part of the Jacob Bolotin Award Committee. I want to thank Ron Brown and Mary Ellen Jernigan for reviewing the applications this year. Let's hear a cheer for Ron and Mary Ellen. [Cheer] Mr. President, this concludes my report and the presentation of the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards for 2015.

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