by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has announced the recipients of its Helen Keller Achievement Awards, given annually since 1994. The presentation ceremony will take place as a special event immediately prior to their leadership conference in Arlington, Virginia on April 19, 2023. The first of two recipients, the Honorable Tony Coelho, former California Congressman and champion for disability rights, led the efforts to introduce the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). More than 30 years after he left Congress, Coelho still serves the community, including through his Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy and Innovation at Loyola Marymount University School of Law. Speaking about the award, he stated that “’For sixty years, serving this remarkable community has been my ministry and so I am incredibly honored to receive the Hellen Keller Achievement Award and all that it represents… I am also deeply humbled to consider the role I’ve played in improving the lives of individuals with a disability aligns with the vision of the icon that is Hellen Keller.’” The second awardee, Charter Communications, is being honored for its achievements in expanding inclusive media for audiences with vision loss. Concentrating on making film and television more accessible to people with low vision, products like their free Spectrum Access app make it possible to get audio description for visual media from anywhere. Steve Raymond, the company’s Vice-President of Accessibility, explained that “’Charter is dedicated to inclusivity across the communities we serve. Our commitment to accessibility, both in the workplace and in the products and services we provide to millions of customers, is fundamental to how we operate as a business. We are honored to be recognized with the Helen Keller Achievement Award…’” AFB Board Chair Debbie Dennis summed up: “’Both of our honorees this year embody the heart and passion of Helen Keller in their efforts to create a more inclusive and just world for people with disabilities. Their contributions to society not only expanded equal access for people who are blind and low vision, but they continue to remind us all that the desire to dream something new is alive and well in the age of digital inclusion.’” You can learn more in this press release about the 2023 Helen Keller Achievement Award recipients.