FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: 
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Category: 
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

Congressman Mica to Participate
in NFB Blind Driver Challenge™

Washington, D.C. (January 27, 2011): The National Federation of the Blind announced today that Congressman John Mica, who represents Florida’s Seventh Congressional District and chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, will participate in the demonstration of a vehicle that can be driven by the blind.  The Congressman will be present along with NFB officials and other dignitaries when a modified Ford Escape equipped with nonvisual technology allowing a blind person to drive it independently is demonstrated as part of pre-race activities leading up to the Rolex 24 at the Daytona International Speedway on January 29.  Congressman Mica will drive the vehicle onto the course and present the keys to a blind driver, who will then drive the road course alone. 

Congressman Mica said: “I am pleased to participate in this historic moment, which will shatter misconceptions about blind citizens and show the world exciting new technologies that will enhance the quality of living for many Americans.  I have no doubt that this event is a milestone in revolutionary technological change that will dramatically improve transportation and safety in the twenty-first century.”

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “We are extremely pleased that Congressman Mica is joining us for this historic occasion.  It is fitting that the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will participate in the demonstration of technology that will ultimately benefit sighted drivers as well as the blind.”

The National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute—the only research and training facility on blindness operated by the blind—has challenged universities, technology developers, and other interested innovators to establish NFB Blind Driver Challenge™ (BDC) teams, in collaboration with the NFB, to build interface technologies that will empower blind people to drive a car independently.  The purpose of the NFB Blind Driver Challenge™ is to stimulate the development of nonvisual interface technology.  The Virginia Tech/TORC team, under the direction of Dr. Dennis Hong, Director of the Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory at Virginia Tech., is the only team that has accepted the challenge.  The team is currently working with the National Federation of the Blind on the second-generation prototype vehicle to integrate new and improved versions of the first-generation nonvisual interface technologies into a Ford Escape.

For more information about the NFB, please visit www.nfb.org.  For our digital news release about the Blind Driver Challenge™ and the debut of the BDC car at the Rolex 24, including audio and video clips for television and radio, please visit www.DigitalNewsRelease.com/?q=NFB_CarKit.