Apple receives prestigious 2015 Helen Keller Achievement Award

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) today announced the names of four honorees who will receive the prestigious Helen Keller Achievement Awards at a special gala in New York City on June 18th.

Awardees include Apple Inc. for breakthroughs in accessible technology, actor Charlie Cox for his portrayal of a blind superhero, Ward Marston a musician/recording engineer with vision loss, and Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. for pioneering treatment of a circadian rhythm disorder, Non-24 Sleep-Wake Disorder, that can affect people who are totally blind.

“We are honoring accomplished individuals and companies for their success in improving quality of life for people with vision loss either through groundbreaking innovation or inspirational achievement that changes perceptions about what it means to be visually impaired,” said AFB President & CEO Carl R. Augusto, in a statement.

AFB is recognizing Apple for VoiceOver, a gesture-based screen reader that allows users to hear a description of everything happening on the display, and other features that make iPhone, iPad and other iOS devices accessible to people with vision loss. Apple received an AFB Access Award in 2009 for its trailblazing engineering of accessible products and continues its extraordinary efforts to make their products accessible for everyone.

Charlie Cox, a British actor who has appeared in major UK and US television and film productions, is being honored for introducing a new generation of audiences to the iconic Marvel character Matt Murdock in Marvel’s Daredevil, a new original series on Netflix. After being exposed to radioactive material as a child, Murdock went blind but found that the accident also granted him heightened senses. Along with his special training, Murdock uses his special abilities to fight crime in modern day Hell’s Kitchen, New York.

Musician and band leader Ward Marston is being recognized for a distinguished career both as a performer and musical historian and preservationist. He has re-mastered hundreds of classical recordings and jammed with the likes of Count Basie traveling widely with the Ward Marston Orchestra and performing at major events and venues across the country.

Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. is being recognized for scientific innovation in developing the first and only FDA approved treatment for people who are totally blind and living with Non-24. Non-24 is a disorder that disrupts the body’s internal clock and can lead to sleep challenges, especially for people with total blindness. This is primarily due to the lack of light perception needed to keep a body’s internal rhythm in sync with a 24-hour day.

AFB’s Helen Keller Achievement Awards gala will bring together leaders from business, education, government, the arts and entertainment. It will take place on Thursday evening, June 18, 2015 at the J.W. Marriott Essex House New York, 160 Central Park South.

Source: The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)


  1. Imagine the potential with the Taptic engine in the Apple Watch. The type, strength and length of vibration could yield a rich interface for communication among the blind and the deaf.

    Not to mention new ways to cheat at poker. 😎

  2. What the hell is Apple wasting its money on accommodating for blind people. How many Apple devices do they buy? Apple can never recoup the cost of this R&D. Apple is robbing their shareholders by spending money on this frivolous pursuit.

    That’s what leading Wall Street analysts will say.

    1. My god! I think you’re right. I think we should hire very expensive ambulance chasers (attorneys) and file a class action lawsuit against Apple for lost shareholder value.

      1. It’s one of those awards that adds absolutely nothing to shareholder value. Wall Street says there aren’t enough deaf-blind individuals to move Apple’s needle, so it’s a waste. Anything Apple does that doesn’t directly put more cash into investors’ pockets is always considered a waste of time and effort and is basically seen as a company negative.


        1. I know. I’m trying not to trigger myself into lecture mode. But I’ll point out that this bad attitude toward human disabilities and better regard for money indicates:
          A) Someone lost in the game we call finance, to the detriment of living IRL.
          B) Psychopathy of some sort. Oops, conscience either turned off or missing.

          I recommend neither of the above, although they can be handy in moderation, as I expect we can all imagine.

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