An accomplished author, Roberts’ acclaimed work, about the intrepid blind traveler (and namesake of this prize) James Holman, “A Sense of the World: How a Blind Man Became History’s Greatest Traveler,” was a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award, long-listed for the international Guardian First Book Award, and named a Best Book of the Year by the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle and Kirkus Reviews. Born in Southern California, Roberts earned his high school diploma at fourteen, then took a five-year hiatus from education. He worked as a day laborer, dishwasher and late-night disc jockey before matriculating at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He lives in Sausalito, California, with his wife, a chemical engineer, and their two young children.
“Though a single inconvenience, blindness has the power to ignite strength, resilience, and confidence. We may grow exhausted of educating society of our abilities, but who more qualified than blind communities to shatter the glass ceiling that eternally perpetuates negative misconceptions?”
Kathryn Webster graduated from Wake Forest University with high honors, receiving Bachelor of Science degrees in Statistics and Computer Science in 2017. Her scholastic achievements propelled her into a career with Deloitte & Touché, LLP. where she specializes in strategic transformation and data analytics. Kathryn recognizes the value in intertwining corporate prowess with civic engagement, thus jump-starting a statewide transition program for blind and low vision youth, designed to ignite confidence and independence, demonstrate the value of mentorship, and encourage Virginia’s youth to shoot for the stars. Kathryn proudly serves as President of the National Association of Blind Students (NABS), Kathryn lives each day with true authenticity, bringing difficult conversations to the table and engaging in a persistent challenge to be the best version of herself.
Dr. Sacks is recently retired from her post as Superintendent of the California School for the Blind. During her tenure, Dr. Sacks led a staff of 150 and promoted education excellence for students served on campus and through outreach programs throughout the state. Prior to her role as superintendent, Dr. Sacks was the Director of Curriculum, Assessment, & Staff Development at CSB. After receiving her doctorate, Sharon coordinated programs, and was a university professor in moderate/severe disabilities at San Jose State University, and programs in visual impairments at California State University, Los Angeles. Dr. Sacks worked as a TVI for eight years as a resource and itinerant teacher prior to assuming leadership positions.
She has conducted research, presented nationally and internationally, and published widely in the areas of social skills instruction for students with visual impairments, psycho-social implications of visual impairment, transition programming for students with visual impairments, and strategies to educate students with visual impairments and multiple disabilities. Dr. Sacks has provided consultation, assessment, and program evaluation services to schools and agencies serving children and adults with visual impairments.
Dr. Sacks is a strong advocate for ensuring quality services for children and adults who are blind or visually impaired through her direct work with families, consumer organizations, and professional organizations. She is the recipient of the Mary K. Bauman Award for Distinguished Service in Education, and a past president of AERBVI.
Presently, Dr. sacks is a part-time faculty member in the Department of Special Education, san Francisco State University, and the Board Chair of the Lighthouse for the Blind & Visually Impaired in San Francisco.
Michelle Hackman is a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, where she covers immigration policy and the Department of Homeland Security. Her work has appeared in Niemann Reports, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the New Haven Independent and The Toast, as part of a Light House series of essays by blind women. She has won several journalism awards, including the 2018 Everett Mckinley Dirksen prize for distinguished reporting on Congress for a story she co-wrote about former Health Secretary Tom Price’s stock trades as a Member of Congress. Michele is a 2015 Yale graduate and lives in Washington.
My life continues to be characterized by landmarks. As The first totally blind student completing mainstream education to post graduate level; becoming the first female to hold the office of President of the Senate, the only person with a disability and the youngest person. I have served both professionally and personally in various organisations for persons with disabilities, both locally and regionally and currently hold the office of President of both my the National United Society of the Blind Barbados and the Caribbean Council for the Blind. I have represented my country and at several local, regional and international fora on a cadre of issues related to disabilities. Initiatives such as the Holman Prize embody my core belief that blindness is not a burden but an exciting opportunity.
“The art of living with blindness demands absolute creativity; creativity in attaining and maintaining your own independence, creativity in charting a path that encourages others to emulate your example, creativity in ensuring that others value and recognise your individuality and the right to be the whole person you were designed to be.”
Will Schell serves as an Attorney Advisor at the Disability Rights Office of the Federal Communications Commission where he leads the consumer complaint team; drafts various guidance and orders; and engages in outreach with the disability community. Prior to working at the Disability Rights Office, Will was a Civil Rights Analyst at the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services where he provided assistance and guidance on Olmstead complaints. Will has also served as a staff attorney at Disability Rights California.
“The way blindness is perceived is far more disabling than blindness itself. The story of blind people is not the story most think it is. It is not a story of pity and charity. It is the story of thinking outside the box and seeing no limits.”
Natalina is the President of Braille Literacy Canada, a Ph.D Candidate at the University of Montreal, and a passionate advocate for accessibility and inclusion. Her research focuses on braille and haptics, and on braille teaching and learning throughout adulthood. An avid traveler, her most memorable trip was visiting the house of Louis Braille.
Mike May is Chief Evangelist for Good Maps, Inc., a pedestrian navigation company with an emphasis on accessible navigation for people who are blind or visually impaired. He was previously Executive Director of the Workforce Innovation Center at Envision in Wichita Kansas, CEO of the Lighthouse for the Blind in Seattle and CEO/Founder of Sendero Group, makers of accessible navigation products.
Mike May has been a pioneer in new product and business development since 1980. He worked for the Central Intelligence Agency as a Political Risk Analyst, for the Bank of California in automating wire transfers and cash machines and for TRW starting a new business area. Mike’s start-up ventures have included developing the world’s first and only Laser Turntable, inventing a portable heating cushion for sports and medical applications and starting 2 companies in adaptive technology.
Mike May has a Masters’ degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Coker College, SC.
Mike has met 4 Presidents including President Obama and several of his cabinet members to discuss national initiatives on adaptive technology. He was a member of the White House delegation to the 2010 Paralympics and has been inducted into the US Association of the Blind Hall of Fame. He is the subject of the best selling book Crashing Through by, Robert Kurson with a movie in the works.
James A. Kutsch Jr., PhD served as President and CEO of The Seeing Eye from 2006 until he retired in December 2019. He served as Chair of the Board of the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF), Chairman of the Morris Animal Foundation Board, President of the Council of U.S. Dog Guide Schools, and Chairman of the Board of National Industries for the Blind. Earlier, Kutsch was a Professor of Computer Science, a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff at Bell Laboratories, VP and Chief Information Officer at AT&T Universal Card Services, and VP of Strategic Technology at Convergys.
His degrees include a Psychology BA and a Computer Science MS and PhD, as well as an honorary Doctorate for lifetime service to people with disabilities, including designing the first talking computer.
Jason has been working in the accessibility and assistive technology field for more than 20 years. In his current role at CNIB, he ensures that any staff with vision loss are able to take full advantage of the multitude of technologies available to them. He works directly with companies such as Microsoft and Google to assist them in providing the most accessible products possible. Prior to CNIB, Jason worked for Freedom Scientific, one of the largest providers of assistive technology for people with vision loss.