In 2017, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco launched the Holman Prize to support the emerging adventurousness and can-do spirit of blind and low vision people worldwide. This endeavor celebrates people who want to shape their own future instead of having it laid out for them.
Created specifically for legally blind individuals with a penchant for exploration of all types, the Prize provides financial backing – up to $25,000 – for three individuals to explore the world and push their limits.
The ideal candidate is someone who is willing to probe their environment and eager to savor the richness of a world that is so often thought of as inaccessible to the blind. This exploration may involve travel, community organizing, athletics, creating art and more.
The Prize begins with a challenge: blind applicants must submit a first-round pitch, in the form of a 90-second YouTube video. Later, a select group of semifinalists will submit in-depth written proposals, and an even smaller group of finalists will be interviewed by LightHouse staff.
“We recognize that asking a blind person to upload a video may challenge some people’s ideas of what blind people are capable of — of what blind people can or should do,“ says LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin. “The video uploading and later public speaking will certainly require creativity, and these are the qualities we seek to encourage with the Holman Prize. These are the types of people we want to apply.”
Our three inaugural prizewinners – Ahmet Ustunel, Penny Melville-Brown and Ojok Simon – were selected by a committee of leaders, thinkers and explorers from throughout the blind world and were announced in summer 2017. They will be recognized at the Holman Prize Gala in November 2018.