The nation's largest organization for people with disabilities honored Nick Donofrio, IBM executive vice president, innovation and technology, with its prestigious Justice for All award in a ceremony today in the nation's capital.
Speaking for the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), president and CEO Andy Imparato cited Donofrio's long-standing commitment to diversity and to his enthusiastic support of "innovation that matters." Paul Horn, IBM Senior Vice President, Research, accepted the award for Nick.
The Justice for All award recognizes people who are "extraordinary champions" of the economic empowerment of people with disabilities. Donofrio, in his role as IBM's chief technologist and driver of innovation, is dedicated to engaging IBM's visionary people to invent, use and bring to market accessible technology, Horn said. That technology allows people with disabilities to enjoy the same advantages and opportunities that the information and communications revolution has made possible for the world at large.
From the time that IBM founder T.J. Watson hired the first employee with a disability back in 1914, the company has driven technological innovations that make it possible and practical for people with disabilities to hold jobs and pursue meaningful careers.
For example, Horn said, in 1975, IBM produced the Braille printer to assist workers who are blind. Today, the IBM Research Division is a world leader in speech-to-text and text-to-speech technologies; these drive IBM inventions like Home Page Reader, a talking Web browser that allows blind workers to hear the content of Web pages read aloud by the computer in a choice of languages The IBM WebAdapt2Me software allows seniors and people with vision difficulties change the way Web information is presented and adjust the size of the type, the colors, and the contrast or opt to have the information read to them. IBM also invents technologies, like the newly announced mouse adapter, that help people with hand tremors and those with limited mobility use computers.
Others recognized at the AAPD award ceremony included:
Senators Jim Jeffords and Gordon Smith;
Author Jeffery Deaver; and
Disability rights advocate Yoshiko Dart.
The AAPD chose July 26 as the day to give the Justice for All Awards as it is both the 15th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the tenth anniversary of the founding of AAPD.
IBM's History of Leadership in Helping People with Disabilities
* 1914: IBM hired the first disabled employee, a full 76 years before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
* 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s: IBM was among the first to create special needs productsincluding a remote-control keyboard, talking typewriter and rudimentary speech-recognition devicefor people with disabilities.
* 1975: IBM developed the Braille printer, which rendered text as Braille for users who were blind.
* 1997: Introduced IBM Home Page Reader, a talking Web browser that helps users who are blind hear the full range of Web-page content in a logical, understandable manner.
*2000: IBM launched Worldwide Accessibility Centers across the globe to accelerate accessibility product compliance internally, while providing global accessibility services to customers.
* 2001: IBM established the MentorPlace program for disabled high school students, providing them with online academic assistance, career counseling and exposure to a variety of careers at IBM.
* 2001: This year marked the enforcement of Section 508 of U.S. Rehabilitation Act, which requires federal agencies to purchase electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. In support, IBM accelerated its product compliance and established "War Room" to enable federal sales teams to supply Section 508 compliance information to the government.
2002: IBM introduced Web accessibility offerings, including Easy Web Browsing, a solution designed to help seniors and people with limited vision access Web-site information more easily.
Jan. 2005: IBM announced a new version of Home Page Reader, designed to help businesses meet both growing regulatory requirements and the needs of employees and customers who are blind, visually impaired, or elderly, by allowing them to navigate increasingly complex Web sites.
Mar. 2005: IBM introduced a new computer mouse adapter that enables people who suffer from hand tremors to eliminate excessive cursor movement, thereby allowing more normal use of a personal computer.
May 2005: In testimony before the U.S. Senate, IBM called for support of consistent worldwide accessibility standards so that everyone, especially people with disabilities and the aging population, can have easy access to information technology and the Web.
July 2005: The American Association of People with Disabilities grants Nick Donofrio the Justice for All award in recognition of nearly a century of IBM advancements to assist people with disabilities.