Release Date: 
Friday, July 13, 2007
John G. Paré Jr.
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2371
(410) 913-3912 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind Presents Prestigious Award
to Dr. Raymond Kurzweil

Famed Inventor Developed Reading Technology for the Blind

Baltimore, Maryland (July 13, 2007): The National Federation of the Blind, the nation’s oldest and largest organization of blind people, presented its Newell Perry Award to Dr. Raymond Kurzweil at the organization’s recent convention in Atlanta.  This distinguished award was given in recognition of Dr. Kurzweil’s innovative development of technology that assists blind people in accessing printed material.  Dr. Kurzweil–the noted inventor, futurist, and bestselling author–created the first reading machine for the blind in 1975 with input from the National Federation of the Blind.  He recently worked with the NFB again to develop the Kurzweil–National Federation of the Blind Reader, the first handheld device capable of converting words on a printed page into synthetic speech.  Dr. Kurzweil is president and chief executive officer of K-NFB Reading Technology.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The Newell Perry Award is intended for individuals, blind or sighted, who have demonstrated courageous leadership and outstanding service in the blindness field.  Ray Kurzweil has done more than simply invent revolutionary reading technology; he has helped the blind of America to realize our dream of complete independence.  He has demonstrated that he truly cares about us, and we present him with this award in recognition of his commitment to ensuring that the blind take our rightful place as productive members of society.”

Dr. Kurzweil said: "Having worked closely with the National Federation of the Blind for thirty-two years on reading technology, receiving their top award (for non-members) is very meaningful and moving for me.  Of course the real prize is seeing blind and dyslexic persons benefit from our technology, but this affirmation of my relationship with this outstanding organization is very gratifying."

The National Federation of the Blind presents the Newell Perry Award periodically, often to individuals who are not members of the organization but who have provided outstanding service to the blind or are leaders in the blindness field.  The award is named in honor of Dr. Newell Perry, who taught and mentored the Federation’s founding president, Dr. Jacobus tenBroek, when tenBroek was a student at the California School for the Blind.  Past recipients of the award include Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr., and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey.