Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Leaders in Improving the Lives of People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Recognized at Annual Conference

This week’s American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) Leadership Conference recognized six individuals “who have made superb contributions to improving the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired” with presentations of the Migel Medal, the Llura Gund Leadership Award, and the Corinne Kirchner Research Award. The Migel Medal, established in 1937 by AFB’s first chairman, M.C. Migel, honors professionals and volunteers. Medal recipients are Gale Watson, a leader and expert who has worked in clinical care, education, and research in the blindness field, and Judith Dixon, “a recognized trailblazer” in braille reading, writing, and advocacy. The first Llura Gund Leadership Award was presented to Rachel Longan, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private psychotherapy practice in Berkeley, California. Longan has brought people together throughout her career to benefit individuals of all ages with vision loss and special needs. This award is named in honor of the late Llura Gund, a philanthropist who, with her husband Gordon, funded research treatments and cures for blinding retinal diseases. The Corinne Kirchner Research Award recognizes individuals “whose leadership and dedication illuminate the most pressing needs of people with vision loss” through research. The recipients, research team members whose work resulted in the Visual Impairment Scale of Service Intensity of Texas (VISSIT), are: Rona Pogrund, PhD, TSVI, COMS, Professor and Coordinator of the TSVI program at Texas Tech University; Shannon Darst, PhD, TSVI, COMS, Program Facilitator for the Visual Impairment Program at Stephen F. Austin University; and Michael Munro, PhD, TSVI, Visual Impairment Consultant in Region 6 Educational Service Center of Texas. VISSIT, now in use nationwide, provides a research-based tool for members of the student’s IEP (Individualized Education Program) team to make service time recommendations related to the expanded core curriculum (ECC), utilizing data from student evaluations and decisions based on individual needs. For more information, read the press release: American Foundation for the Blind to Present Its Highest Honors at Annual Conference.