Karen Gourgey, director of Baruch College’s Computer Center for Visually Impaired People (CCVIP) and Steve Landau, President of Touch Graphics, have been named co-winners of the first Touch of Genius Prize. The prize is awarded by the National Braille Press in partnership with The Gibney Family Foundation. Gourgey and Landau will both take part in a special ceremony and seminar to be held later in October at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The next day, each will receive a check for $10,000.
Gourgey and Landau won the international competition for the Talking Tactile Tablet (TTT) which the two jointly developed over a period of several years. The Tablet is an inexpensive computer peripheral device that allows visually impaired people to “read” diagrams, maps, and illustrations. By placing one of many overlay sheets on the Tablet, a visually impaired person can explore a graphic using easily learned “touch-and-talk” technology. The TTT was awarded a patent by the U.S. Government Patent Office in 2006. A remarkable teaching device, it allows users to learn the geography of Africa, the geometry of Euclid, or the optimal subway route to Canarsie.
Gourgey and Landau will travel to Massachusetts for the awards ceremony and a special symposium at which they will present and explain the Talking Tactile Tablet to an audience of MIT students, faculty and interested members of the community, prior to receiving their prize. This event takes place from 4 to 6 pm on Thursday, Oct. 25, at the MIT Hotel, 20 Sidney Street, Cambridge.
Last spring, the National Braille Press published a biography of Louis Braille. The prize was created to honor Braille who, virtually single-handedly, made literacy and the world of books accessible to blind and visually impaired people around the world. According to NBP, “the award seeks to identify a similar pacesetter and inspire future innovators.” Upon learning that she had been named a winner of the Touch of Genius Award, Gourgey said, “This is an unbelievable honor, and very gratifying after all the years of small steps, backwards and forwards, that led up this point I’m thrilled”
To read the official National Braille Press announcement of the award, visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/braille/louisbrailleprizewinner.html/.
For more information about the Talking Tactile Tablet, visit www.touchgraphics.com/ttt.htm/.
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