FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: 
Monday, April 9, 2007
Category: 
John G. Paré Jr.
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2371
(410) 913-3912 (Cell)

James Gashel to Work Full-time on Flagship Reading Technology

Named Vice President of Marketing at K-NFB Reading Technology

Baltimore, Maryland (April 9, 2007): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) announced today that James Gashel, the organization’s Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives, will leave that position in July following the NFB national convention, while remaining in other leadership roles he holds in the organization.  Effective April 1, Mr. Gashel became Vice President of Marketing of K-NFB Reading Technology, Inc., a company formed by the Federation and inventor Ray Kurzweil to develop and market the Kurzweil–National Federation of the Blind Reader and other technologies to assist persons who cannot read print.  The Kurzweil–National Federation of the Blind Reader is the first handheld reading machine for the blind, able to convert words on the printed page into synthesized speech in seconds. 

Mr. Gashel has served as NFB Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives since May 2004.  In addition to the development of the Kurzweil–National Federation of the Blind Reader, he oversaw the continuing growth of the NFB-NEWSLINE® electronic newspaper service and the Federation’s Governmental Affairs and Public Relations offices.  Prior to May 2004, Mr. Gashel served as the Federation’s Director of Governmental Affairs for thirty years.  John G. Paré Jr., who now serves as NFB Director of Public Relations, will fill Mr. Gashel’s current position.  As Director of Public Relations, Mr. Paré has handled the NFB national publicity campaign for the Kurzweil–National Federation of the Blind Reader and represented the NFB on Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer.  Mr. Paré previously served as NFB Director of Sponsored Technology Programs and was responsible for substantially expanding the NFB-NEWSLINE® service.  He also worked for over sixteen years in the technology industry, moving from engineer to technical advisor and finally to national sales manager.

“James Gashel has been instrumental in the development of the Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind Reader since its inception,” said Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind.  “From a strategic perspective, it makes sense for him to participate directly in the further development of this technology, and in getting it into the hands of as many blind people as possible.  We will miss seeing Jim around the office here in Baltimore, but he will be continuing the work of advancing technology for the blind in another capacity.  We are fortunate to have so much talent in the organization that the work he did here will continue with no interruption under John Paré.”

“I knew from the moment I was offered the job as Director of Governmental Affairs for the NFB in late 1973 that I was probably starting a lifelong career,” said Mr. Gashel.  “My career of working with the blind of America has been wonderful so far, and it is by no means ending, even though my job title and place of employment are changing.  Working on new technology that will improve the lives of blind people is something about which I am very passionate, and I look forward to working directly with Ray Kurzweil and his dedicated team to see that reading technology for the blind continues to improve while at the same time becoming more portable, inexpensive, and user-friendly.”