AER Recognizes Vision Profession Leaders with Biennial Awards

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(Alexandria, Va.) The Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) recognized leaders in the vision profession at the biennial AER International Conference 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida, July 22.

AER’s highest honor in education, the Mary K. Bauman Award, went to Dr. Tuck Tinsley III, who recently retired as president of the American Printing House for the Blind. The Ambrose M. Shotwell Award, the association’s highest honor in rehabilitation, was presented to Gale Watson, national director for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Blind Rehabilitation Service.

Dr. Lauren Lieberman, Dr. Paul Ponchillia, and Dr. Susan Ponchillia received the C. Warren Bledsoe Award, acknowledging contributions to literature related to blindness. Lieberman is a distinguished service professor at The College at Brockport, State University of New York and founder of Camp Abilities. Paul Ponchillia is professor emeritus for the Department Blindness and Low Vision Studies, Western Michigan University. Susan Ponchillia, deceased, was also on the faculty at Western Michigan University.

Cliff Olstrom, former executive director of the Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind, earned the Douglas C. MacFarland Award, which honors individuals who have provided leadership in the field of blindness and visual impairment and are now retired from the field.

Dr. John Mascia, president of the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, received the John H. McAulay Award for outstanding efforts and achievements leading to the placement of people with visual impairments in productive employment.

Linda Lyle, superintendent of the New Mexico School for the Blind & Visually Impaired, was presented the Alfred Allen Award for direct service to people with visual impairments.

The AER Nebraska Chapter received the Outstanding Chapter Award for 2016 for its efforts in membership recruitment and member involvement and benefits. Audrey Graves, center-based program lead teacher for the Nebraska Center for the Education of Children who are Blind or Visually Impaired, accepted the award on behalf of the chapter.

New in 2016 was the presentation of the Richard L. Welsh Award to Joseph P. Helm in recognition of his efforts in AER chapter leadership. Helm, retired assistant commissioner of the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services, has served in numerous leadership positions within the Alabama Chapter. The award is named for AER’s first president, Richard L. Welsh, who passed away in 2014.

AER is an international non-profit association supporting professionals who provide education and rehabilitation services to people with visual impairments, offering professional development opportunities, educational resources, and public advocacy.