Release Date: 
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind Awards $50,000

Ninth Annual Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards Presented at 2016 Convention

Orlando, Florida (July 5, 2016): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) today presented $50,000 in cash awards to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions toward achieving the full integration of the blind into society on a basis of equality. At the National Federation of the Blind annual convention in Orlando, the ninth annual Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards honored four innovators who are helping blind people live the lives they want.

A $5,000 award was presented to Audio & Braille Literacy Enhancement, Inc., a Wisconsin-based transcription service that converts textbooks for school children into Braille, and is able to provide immediate transcription services for other classroom materials. A $10,000 prize was awarded to Oskar & Klaus Publishing, a company that produces children’s books detailing the adventures of a real blind cat (Oskar) and his feline pal (Klaus), with the message of accepting those with different characteristics and not allowing blindness to prevent a cat, or person, from embarking upon extraordinary adventures. A $15,000 award was presented to Winston Chen for his creation of the mobile application Voice Dream Reader, which makes reading and navigating a variety of electronic documents possible using synthetic speech and an innovative, accessible user interface. A cash prize of $20,000 went to the Semitic Scholars, a group of three blind academics who created a Braille code for ancient Biblical languages so that source documents of religious texts can be studied independently by blind students in their original context—a feat that was previously impossible.

Dr. Jacob Bolotin, the namesake of the award program, was a blind physician who lived and practiced in Chicago from 1912 until his untimely death at age thirty-six in 1924. Dr. Bolotin was especially recognized for treating diseases of the heart and lungs. Despite his rigorous schedule tending to his patients’ needs at all hours of the day and night, Dr. Bolotin also became known as a public speaker and advocate for the employment of the blind and their full integration into society.

Mark A. Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Dr. Jacob Bolotin was a pioneer who overcame low expectations and discrimination to become a renowned member of the medical profession without the benefit of the support services and civil rights protections available to blind people today. The National Federation of the Blind is proud to honor the memory and spirit of Dr. Bolotin by recognizing and financially supporting those individuals and organizations, both from within the blindness field and outside of it, who are doing exceptional work to help achieve the shared dream of Dr. Bolotin and the National Federation of the Blind—a society in which the blind, like all other Americans, can pursue their goals and live the lives they want.”

The Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards Program is funded through the generosity of Dr. Bolotin’s nephew and niece-in-law, Alfred and Rosalind Perlman. The late Mrs. Perlman established the Alfred and Rosalind Perlman Trust to endow the awards. Income from the trust is distributed to the National Federation of the Blind and the Santa Barbara Foundation for the purpose of administering the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards Program. For more information about the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards Program—including more information about this year’s winners, as well as eligibility criteria and application procedures—please visit