Helen Keller Services Holds Second Annual Award Ceremony


    “Access-Ability Awards” Recognizing Companies, Non-Profits and Individuals that Support the DeafBlind Community

    Helen Keller Services (HKS), a national non-profit working with individuals who are blind, have low vision, DeafBlind and/or have combined hearing-vision loss to live, work and thrive, hosted its Second Annual “Access-Ability Awards,” recognizing companies, non-profit organizations and individuals doing work to support the individuals who are DeafBlind, blind or have low vision in a variety of ways.
    The Awards were presented in a special virtual ceremony on June 29, 2022, at 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. EST and broadcast virtually on the Helen Keller Services Facebook page. Doug Roland, writer and director of the Academy Award-nominated short film Feeling Through, served as emcee for the awards.
    The awards were held to coincide with both the birthday of Helen Keller and DeafBlind Awareness Week, June 26 to July 2.

    Dr. Sue Ruzenski, Helen Keller Services CEO.

    “We are proud to recognize these leaders in our field who have made it their business to take action and advance accessibility within their companies or organizations and for the people they serve,” said Sue Ruzenski, CEO of Helen Keller Services. “We continue to make progress towards greater accessibility and inclusivity for and among the communities we work with, but there is still a great deal more of work to be done.”

    Andy Burstein, Accessibility Pharmacy Services for the Blind CEO.

    “As the only home delivery pharmacy service specializing in the needs of people who are blind, DeafBlind and have low vision and the largest blind-owned healthcare company in the country, we thank HKS for this award,” said Andy Burstein, CEO of Accessible Pharmacy, located in Philadelphia, PA. “Everything we do is focused on merging accessibility and healthcare. The knowledge we are gaining from our collaboration with Helen Keller Services in our mission to help patients live more independently has been invaluable.”
    “My mom Dee has been blind since the age of seven but she has never let that stop her – and it’s why I am inspired to do what we do to support the DeafBlind community, including putting Braille on our packaging,” said Isaac Shapiro, CEO of Cleanlogic, located in Los Angeles, CA. “We want to inspire more companies to to do the same and to hire blind and visually impaired individuals.”

    Nancy Friedman, President of ServiceSkills. (Contributed photos from the virtual awwards ceremony)

    “Thank you for presenting us and our terrific employees with this amazing award,” said Nancy Friedman, President of Service Skills, a robust eLearning solution that delivers a curated collection of soft skills training courses that offers hundreds of customer service training, team building and workplace respect eLearning modules, located in Saint Louis, MO.
    “Everything we have done over the past decade is a bunch of small steps, taken by like-minded people working together, trying to make the world a more inclusive place,” said Dr. Brett Oppegaard, PI for the Unidescription Project, a grant-funded research initiative which translates visual media into audible media. Projects include providing audio descriptions of more than 130 locations in National Parks and in 30 states across the country, located in Honolulu, HI.
    “Of all the work we do all day long, working with Helen Keller Services is the best thing that we get to work on,” said Tracy Zuto, EVP Executive Creative Director for Wunderman Thompson Health. WundermanHealth, a New York City-based global marketing agency, has produced HKS’ DeafBlind Awareness Week posters pro bono for more than 30 years. This year’s poster and details on the campaign are here.

    Larry Kinitsky, Helen Keller Services Chairman of the Board.

    “These companies have made significant contributions to improving the everyday life of those who are DeafBlind, blind and have low vision,” added Larry Kinitsky, Chairman of HKS. “We are truly thankful that so many companies are working towards improved accessibility and look forward to more innovation in the future.”
    Also as part of the program, Jessica Rafuse, Microsoft Director of Strategic Partnerships and Policy will deliver a keynote address. Microsoft was one of last year’s inaugural recipients of an AccessAbility Award and continues to be a strong advocate for and innovator of accessible technologies.
    About Helen Keller Services:
    Helen Keller Services’ mission is to enable individuals who are blind, visually impaired, deaf-blind and/or have combined hearing-vision loss to live, work and thrive in their community of choice. HKS offers services and programs through two divisions: Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults and Helen Keller Services for the Blind. For more information, please visit www.helenkeller.org.
    —Submitted by Helen Keller Services


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