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Saturday Marcy 16, 2019

Vision Fair


Doubletree, Greeley Colorado


Thanks to the Jacob Bolotin Award, The Blind History Lady is busy with information gathering. Blind ancestors are popping up right and left and with the most interesting jobs. One man was a commercial diver. His story and others will be highlighted in upcoming The Blind History Monthly Emails. If you would like to get on the list, send an email to theblindhistorylady@gmail.com

At the 2018 annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind, in Orlando Florida the Blind History Lady was awarded the Jacob Bolotin Award for 2018.

Below is the Press Release from the National Federation of the Blind.

Eleventh Annual Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards Presented at 2018 Convention


National Federation of the Blind Awards $50,000 Eleventh Annual Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards Presented at 2018 Convention

Orlando, Florida (July 23, 2018): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has presented

$50,000 in cash awards to individuals and organizations that are a positive force in the lives of blind people and whose work advances the ultimate goal of helping transform their dreams into reality. At the National Federation of the Blind annual convention in Orlando, the eleventh annual Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards honored six innovators and advocates who are helping blind people live the lives they want.

Awards of $5,000 were presented to each of the following individuals and organizations:

  • Carol Begay Green of Farmington, New Mexico, who developed a Braille code for the Navajo language and will use the funds to teach the code to blind students and others in the Navajo Nation.
  • Peggy Chong, also known as the blind history lady, who shares stories of notable blind individuals throughout history through her website, books, and articles, and who will use the funds to take research trips to complete more of these profiles.
  • IBUG (iOS Blind User group) of Houston, Texas, a network of volunteers using both in-person and virtual training methods to help blind people learn to use the iPhone and other technologies.
  • Ski for Light, an organization that connects the blind, sighted, and others with disabilities through annual cross-country skiing events.
  • The Tactile Map Automation Project (TMAP) of the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired of San Francisco, developers of an automated process that can produce a tactile map of any neighborhood in the United states from an address provided by a user.

The top award of $25,000 was presented to Be My Eyes Inc., the Denmark-based developer of the Be My Eyes app, which connects blind people with sighted volunteers around the world via video conference to provide real-time visual assistance, such as reading labels or identifying colors.

Dr. Jacob W. Bolotin (1888-1924) was the world’s first physician who was blind from birth. He achieved that goal despite the tremendous challenges faced by blind people in his time. Not only did he realize his own dream, but he also went on to support and inspire many others.

“Dr. Jacob Bolotin was a pioneer who overcame low expectations and discrimination to become a renowned member of the medical profession without the benefit of the support services and civil rights protections available to blind people today,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “The National Federation of the Blind is proud to honor the memory and spirit of Dr. Bolotin by recognizing and financially supporting those individuals and organizations who are doing exceptional work to help achieve the shared dream of Dr. Bolotin and the National Federation of the Blind¬a society in which the blind, like all other Americans, can pursue their goals and live the lives they want.”

The Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards Program is funded through the generosity of Dr. Bolotin’s nephew and niece-in-law, Alfred and Rosalind Perlman.

The late Mrs. Perlman established the Alfred and Rosalind Perlman Trust to endow the awards.

Income from the trust is distributed to the National Federation of the Blind and the Santa Barbara Foundation for the purpose of administering the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards Program. For more information about the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Awards Program¬including more about this year’s winners, as well as eligibility criteria and application procedures¬please visit <http://www.nfb.org/bolotin>www.nfb.org/bolotin.


Brad Hodges

Brad Hodges was born in Minnesota. He led a varied and exciting life. For a time, Brad worked for the National Federation of the Blind in Baltimore Maryland.

The National Federation of the Blind of West Virginia affiliate family is mourning a tremendous loss this morning.

Brad Hodges, a long-term dedicated member and president of the Greater Huntington Chapter of NFBWV, has sadly left this earth due to a short illness.

Brad came to West Virginia from the Nfb National Center in Baltimore approximately 13 years ago, brought here by an opportunity as an associate of the American Foundation of the Blind at its tech research center in Huntington. In our affiliate, he made tireless strides to improve life for the citizens of blind persons in many ways, including legislative efforts, and oversight of our state rehabilitation system.

Access technology was a labor of love for Brad. He could always be counted on to know what was the latest, where you could get it, and why you should have it. He seemed to be as far ahead of the curve in this arena as any other expert in the field, and always had great recommendations about what technology was right for everyone.

At this point, we do not know what there will be in the way of memorialization for Brad, but we will keep you posted.

Please keep The Hodges family, his longtime husband Joe Regnier, and our NfbWV family in your thoughts and prayers as we are experiencing this loss.

Tommy Craig Dies

by Zena Pearcy

From the Editor: It is always hard when we lose a beloved Federationist but even harder when the loss is unexpected. Tommy Craig was a two-time state president in Texas. He was hit by a car, and although his injuries were significant, they were not thought to be life-threatening. Here is what Zena Pearcy has to say about the life of our former brother and Federationist:

Thomas Edward Craig was born in Arkansas on January 12, 1955, but as he would tell anyone who would listen, “There are two kinds of people…Texans and people who want to be Texans.” Tommy got to Texas as soon as he could and never left. He had a passion for life and fierce loyalty to people, animals, places, music, and technological products.

His father was a deputy sheriff in Ashdown, Arkansas. Tommy had fond memories of riding in the patrol car and turning the siren on and off. His dad died of brain cancer when Tommy was eight years old. His mother died from a fall on a staircase when Tommy was eleven. He then moved to Houston to live with an aunt, uncle, and cousin.

Tommy attended the Arkansas School for the Blind, the Texas School for the Blind, and graduated high school in Houston at a public school. He attended college classes at Stephen F. Austin and UT Austin. Forever curious and always learning something new, Tommy enjoyed the Boy Scout program for many years. He became an Advance Amateur Radio operator and assisted many young people in getting licensed as HAM radio operators.

Tommy met his wife-to-be, Margaret “Cokie” Dennison, at a convention of the National Federation of the Blind in the late 1970s. They married in 1986. Together Tommy and Cokie raised Siberian Huskies and adopted rescued Greyhounds. They have been active delegates several times to the Democratic conventions in Texas. Both have been leaders in the National Federation of the Blind of Texas.

Fascinated by technology from the beginning, he recognized the importance of home computers shortly after Apple invented its first computer. Through the years he was fiercely loyal to the Apple brand. He had almost every product they made and made sure friends had them, too. He served on the board of the Austin Capitol Macintosh Users Group for several years.

Tommy worked in the field of adaptive equipment for blind people. He traveled the United States selling adaptive devices such as Braille displays, speech-enabled computers, and Braille embossers. He trained many people to use this equipment. Among his clients were people like Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles.

His involvement with the National Federation of the Blind began in the mid-1970s, when he joined the Austin Chapter. He soon became a leader in both his local chapter and within the state affiliate. He served as a member of the National Federation of the Blind of Texas Board of Directors beginning in the late 1970s, and he became president of the affiliate in 1992. He served in that position until 2000, and he served again from 2002 to 2011.

During his tenure as a member of the board, he and Jeff Pearcy served as the leaders of our legislative committee, and under his direction we were able to pass powerful legislation regarding Braille, fair insurance rates, and more. He was probably most proud of his efforts to pass our landmark Braille bill, which was the first in the nation to require on-time delivery of Braille textbooks for blind students, and his effort to secure adequate funding for NFB-NEWSLINE® still makes it possible for us to carry out programs for blind youth, blind seniors, and any Texan who loves to access information.

Those of us left behind mourn the loss of our friend. His passing was sudden and unexpected on August 24. He was planning his rehabilitation from his many injuries from being struck by a car. In his usual “take charge” attitude, Tommy was already setting goals for himself to beat the time limits his doctors reported for normal recovery. He chose his rehabilitation placement based on reports that he could have his dogs visit him there at the facility and that there would be plenty of visits from therapy dogs and horses! His zeal for life held out through his very last moments! We might say “Rest in Peace,” but Tommy probably has other ideas for his future. He is probably romping with all his beloved animals and visiting friends and family who went on before him!

Our dear friend truly lived the Federation philosophy. He was independent, he worked hard, and he lived the life he wanted to live every day.

From the October 2018 Braille Monitor

Winthrop “Tad” Chapman

Tad was a deaf-blind man who’s family went through much to get him an education. Raised in South Dakota, his parents had to go to the state legislature and prove their son could be educated and deserved to have a public education just as other South Dakota children.

You may want to check out a blog by one of his ancestors to learn more about Tad.