BESB: Press Releases and News Stories

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2010 Awards Event: Celebrating Personal Growth; Achievement and Independence

 

 Master of Ceremonies: Patrick Johnson, Executive Director, Oak Hill

 

     When:  Friday, October 22, 2010 at 10:00 a.m.

 

 Where: NEAT Center, 33 Coventry Street, Hartford

 

An event to celebrate the accomplishments of people who are blind and those who have made outstanding contributions to promote the success of people who are blind in Connecticut.  The importance of White Cane Safety Day will also be highlighted to remind Connecticut motorists to be aware of pedestrians with white canes or guide dogs and to please stop to guarantee their safety at crosswalks. 

 

Media Inquiries Contact:  Brian Sigman

State of Connecticut

Board of Education and

Services for the Blind

184 Windsor Avenue

Windsor, CT 06095

Phone: 860-602-4100

 

2010 Chairperson, Gloria Soucy

 

The Agency Consumer Advisory Committee & BESB Celebrates “National White Cane Safety Day” and Achievement Awards that will be presented to eight recipients, including students, clients, volunteers and employers.  

 

Please join our award recipients, their families, BESB staff, and public officials for this celebratory event!

 

Award Recipients Include:

 

This year’s recipient of the Emily Wells Foster Achievement award is Courtney Tabor of North Branford.

 

This year’s recipient of the Raymond E. Baldwin Award is Jean Mayhew from South Glastonbury.

 

This year’s recipient of the Small Employer of the Year award is Bridgeport Alternative Incarceration Center (Community Solutions Inc.). 

 

This year’s Business Enterprise Manager Award recipient is Keith Deleo of Waterbury. The award was established in 2000 to recognize a Business Enterprise Program facility manager who is legally blind for outstanding contributions to the program.

 

 

Special Student Awards 

 

Daniel Rollins of West Hartford will receive an award for outstanding student achievement in Academics.

 

Gwendolyn Vartanian of Vernon will receive an award for outstanding student achievement in the Arts.

 

Brendon Field of  New Hartford will receive an award for Civic Leadership.

 

Noah O’Connor of New Milford will receive an award for Athletic Achievement.

 

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STATE OF CONNECTICUT

EXECUTIVE CHAMBERS

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT  06106

M. Jodi Rell

Governor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 14, 2009

Contact:

860-524-7313

Governor Rell Announces Blindness Safety Day

and Oct. 23 Awards Ceremony

October 15th is White Cane Safety Day in Connecticut and throughout the United States, and Governor M. Jodi Rell today reminded motorists to yield the right of way to pedestrians who are blind. 

  

“It is the law in Connecticut that drivers must stop for pedestrians who are blind,” said Governor Rell.  “Everyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle in Connecticut needs to understand their obligation to watch for pedestrians with White Canes or Guide Dogs and to stop for their safe crossing.”

  

The governor also announced that an October 23 state-sponsored awards ceremony to celebrate the accomplishments for people who are blind and those who have made significant contributions toward promoting the success of people who are blind in Connecticut will take place at the State Capitol at 10:00 AM. 

“Recipients of these awards exemplify the successes and capabilities of people who are blind,” said Governor Rell.  “These awards do not just honor past achievement, they give inspiration to others of a hopeful future by spotlighting academic success, community involvement and entrepreneurial spirit.”

  

Award Recipients include:

  

Emily Wells Foster Achievement Award

  

Junerose Killian, Niantic, CT;

Cornell Graduate, mother of eight, lecturer, lifelong advocate and activist in both the local community and nationally in cultural, sports and disability issues.

  

Raymond E. Baldwin Award

1) Irene Watson, Colchester, CT;

Educator, advocate, low vision innovator, community leader and fundraiser for services and programs that increase independence for people who are blind.

2) Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, New Haven, CT

Philanthropic organization providing grants and funding to community organizations, with exceptional commitment to programs that that provide services to the blind.

Kenneth V. Olson Excellence in Education Award

Agnes Allen, Stamford, CT;

Teacher of Visually Impaired in two states and author of “Life Without Sight: My Journey into the Worlds of the Sighted and the Blind."

Business Enterprise Manager Award

Joseph Nerney, New Hartford, CT;

Philanthropist and musician in the Strong Bonds Program for veterans and their families, entrepreneur managing the gift shop in the State Office Building.

Student Achievement Award- Academics

Nathaniel Book, West Suffield, CT;

Computer Science Student at Suffield High School with accomplishments in  software and web design, and member of the FIRST Robotics Team that competed internationally.

 Student Achievement Award- Civics

Joseph Eckler, Newtown, CT

Long-standing community involvement in Best Buddies, and in Scouting where he served as a Patrol Leader, mentoring new Scouts.  Recipient of the Student of the Month Award at Newtown High School.

Student Achievement Award- Arts

Tiffany Davis, New Haven, CT;

Accomplished vocalist, composer, and performer for the Neighborhood Music School, Connecticut Music Educator’s Association Festival, Heritage Chorale, and the Hamden Symphony.

 Student Achievement Award- Athletics

Justin Edwards, Ellington, CT;

Manager and player on the Ellington Middle School boy’s basketball team, scoring three baskets at the Jayvee competition level. 

Large Business Employer of the Year Award (Over 100 Employees)

Super Stop & Shop/Amity New Haven, CT;

Recognized for enduring support and commitment to employ several individuals who are blind.

  

Small Business Employer of the Year Award (Under 100 Employees)

Attorney at Law, Mr. Valdis Vinkels, Hartford, CT;

For commitment in accommodating a 20-year employee who was legally blind.

  

For more information on the awards and services that are available through the Board of Education and Services for the Blind, visit http://www.ct.gov/besb.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE            

CONTACT: Adam Liegeot, 860-524-7313

Adam.Liegeot@ct.gov

March 25, 2009

Governor Rell Applauds Issuance of Coin Commemorating 200 Years of Braille Literacy

Governor M. Jodi Rell is proclaiming March 26, 2009 as Braille Literacy Day in Connecticut, to join in celebrating the United States Treasury’s release on that date of a commemorative silver dollar coin that recognizes the Bicentennial birthday anniversary of Louis Braille. The coin features the Braille letters “BRL” representing the first time that a coin minted in the United States will be fully accessible for identification by people who are blind.  To find the image, go to www.nfbct.org and click on the link for the 2009 Louis Braille Commemorative Coin.

Born in 1809 in a small town in France, Louis Braille lost his eyesight from an accident in early childhood. At the time, schooling for children who were blind was primarily accomplished by having teachers read lessons aloud. In his early adolescence, Braille was inspired by a 12-dot code system used by soldiers for nighttime communication. After refining the concept to a 6-dot code, he began using the system at age 15 and went on to publish the first Braille book at the age of 20.

Governor Rell noted that “Braille is an important tool that benefits the blind in all aspects of work, family and community involvement. Through the proclamation of Braille Literacy Day in this State, I am encouraging all of our citizens to recognize the importance and value of making Braille available in public settings to ensure equal access. I particularly want to encourage our children with vision impairments to learn Braille as it will serve as a valuable literacy resource throughout your life.”  

Nationally, approximately 5,500 children are Braille Readers, with 100 students in Connecticut. The National Federation of the Blind has set a goal of doubling the number of children who are Braille literate by the year 2015. Presently, only about 10 percent of blind children are being taught Braille in school. Although technology has improved the lives of blind people by facilitating quick access to information, technology alone is not a substitute for Braille, that empowers the blind to read and to write tactually. 

The National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut and the Board of Education and Services for the Blind will feature an educational display of Braille at the Legislative Office Building from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on the morning of March 26, 2009.

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The Office of Governor M. Jodi Rell 

STATE OF CONNECTICUT

EXECUTIVE CHAMBERS

HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT  06106

M. Jodi Rell

Governor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 14, 2008

Contact: Adam Liegeot

860-524-7313

Governor Rell: October 15th is White Cane Safety Day

Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced a public awareness campaign to remind motorists to yield the right of way to pedestrians who are blind.  October 15th is White Cane Safety Day in Connecticut and throughout the United States.

“It is the law in Connecticut that drivers must stop for pedestrians who are blind,” said Governor Rell.  “Everyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle in Connecticut needs to understand their obligation to watch for pedestrians with White Canes or Guide Dogs and to stop for their safe crossing.”

Public service announcements are airing on radio markets in greater Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport to promote this important safety message.

The campaign will culminate with a celebration of accomplishments at the 25th Annual BESB Achievement Awards Ceremony, taking place at the State Capitol on October 17th. 

These awards celebrate the accomplishments of people who are blind, and those who have made significant contributions toward promoting the independence, academic achievement and business success of people who are blind in Connecticut. 

“Recipients of these awards exemplify the successes and capabilities of people who are blind,” said Governor Rell.  “These awards do not just honor past achievement, they give inspiration to others of a hopeful future by spotlighting academic success, community involvement and entrepreneurial spirit.”

Award recipients include:

Gary Johnson of Wolcott, for his outstanding educational achievements as well as his work at the UConn Center for Students with Disabilities; 

Ruth Feldman of Madison, Manager of Education and Accessibility Services at Yale Repertory Theatre for her work in bringing audio descriptive performances to the theatre and then expanding the program to other Connecticut theater venues;

Evelyn Brown of Bozrah, for 28 years of excellence in adapting lesson plans and educating students who are blind or visually impaired;

Columbia Ford, Lincoln, Mercury of Columbia, for their commitment to hiring individuals who are blind;

Verizon Wireless of Wallingford, for their successful efforts to hire, train and retain staff who are blind;

Zacash Shaham of West Hartford, for successful entrepreneurial management of a high volume concession business.

25th Anniversary Lifetime Achievement Award

Stephen Thal of Hartford will receive a lifetime achievement award for his exemplary participation in more than 40 years of professional and volunteer efforts to provide training and increase public education on blindness and eye care. 

Special Student Awards 

Nicholas Corbett of Sterling will receive an award for outstanding student achievement in academics;

Rebekah Anderson of Portland will receive an award for outstanding student achievement in the arts.

Volunteer Awards

Agency volunteers who individually and collectively have made a major volunteer contribution to the mission and services of the Board of Education and Services for the Blind:

Gillian Bromfield of West Hartford

Barbara Jones of Windsor

Barbara Lawlor of Windsor

Holley Rosen of Windsor

Myrna Schaffman of Bloomfield

Ron Carubba of Berlin

Clayton St. Amand of Berlin

For more information on the awards and services that are available through the Board of Education and Services for the Blind, visit http://www.ct.gov/besb.

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BESB Board Chair Alan Sylvestre receives award honor. 

(reprinted with permission of Pitney Bowes)

Sylvestre’s Efforts Put His Work on the Map

A series of population density, housing availability, and commute time maps he

designed for the state’s successful 2005 bid to the US Base Realignment and

Closure Commission (BRACC) to keep the US sub base in Groton has earned Al

Sylvestre of the Performance Measurement Unit a runner-up award from his

peers in the Pitney Bowes MapInfo geographic information systems (GIS)

software user community.

The entry by Sylvestre, a Research Analyst, was singled out in the “Interesting

and Unusual” category during a contest held early this spring by Pitney Bowes

MapInfo of Stamford and Troy, NY.  Contest winners were chosen by e-mail

vote of the international MapInfo user community. 

In addition to being recognized by the international GIS community, Sylvestre’s

maps were part of a month-long display honoring national geography week last

November at the State Legislative Office Building concourse was arranged by

the Connecticut Geospatial Information Systems Council, an initiative composed

of members representing municipalities, state and regional planning agencies,

and the Department of Higher Education that is chaired by the commissioner of

the State Department of Information Technology.

The maps use MapInfo Professional and StreetPro software, census and state

agency data, together data Sylvestre developed to display locations of

employment-entry and job-retention related services such as training programs,

transit routes and child day care.  Sylvestre explained that , “The maps illustrate

conditions that worked in Connecticut’s favor in reversing the BRAC decision.”. 

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Core-based Statistical Area

(CBSA’s), the maps portray the regions competing for the Groton submarine

base’s operations  (Norwich-New London, CT, Jacksonville, FL, and

Norfolk/Newport News, Va.) as the common geographic element, “the maps

show the concentration of residents living and working in the base’s economic

sphere of influence,” he adds.

They also show “housing vacancy rates to imply the availability of places where

base employees can live and reflect commute times to illustrate that a higher

proportion of workers have shorter commutes around the Groton base than they

do in the other locations.”

Sylvestre’s award was presented at a May 21, 2008 luncheon held during

MapInfo’s MapWorld 2008 international users’ conference.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
May 26, 2006 
CONTACT: Brian Sigman, 860-602-4000 
Brian.Sigman@po.state.ct.us

Vacation Guides Now Accessible to the Blind

The State of Connecticut, Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB) announced today that the state will have available in time for the Memorial Day weekend, accessible vacation getaway guides at Connecticut’s six Welcome Centers, so that people who are blind can review the State’s rich history and tourist attraction options in Braille, diskette or large print text. Recognizing that much of Connecticut’s vacation information was previously only available in standard print format, the BESB worked with the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism to convert the “52 Great Getaways” into formats that blind people who visit the Welcome Centers can access independently.

Brian Sigman, Executive Director of the Board of Education and Services for the Blind credits Junerose Killian of East Lyme, member of the agency State Rehabilitation Council with sparking the idea. Ms. Killian had suggested that with the provision of accessible vacation and tourist information, Connecticut could offer travelers with vision impairments the opportunity to learn about the state’s historical, cultural and entertainment offerings. Sigman worked with staff at the Commission on Culture and Tourism to gain access to the documents so that the agency high speed Braille embosser could produce materials for the Centers. Says Sigman, “this was a wonderful collaboration between BESB and the Commission on Culture and Tourism, making it possible for blind people to have these materials with them when setting out to experience our history and vacation spots.” 

The Great Getaways include historical locations such as “Mark Twain’s Connecticut” and “Colonial Connecticut” as well as tourist attractions like “Mystic Magic” and “Water, Water Everywhere.” Each of the 52 “Getaway’s” includes a summary of the activities that are available at the locations, and in many instances, provide information about neighboring points of interest. The Great Getaways are also available through the web page of the Commission on Culture and Tourism at www.CTvisit.com 
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STATE OF CONNECTICUT
EXECUTIVE CHAMBERS
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT  06106
 
M. Jodi Rell
Governor
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 26, 2005
Contact:
Adam Liegeot
860-524-7313
Adam.Liegeot@ct.gov 
 
Governor Rell Announces Continuation of
News and Job Services to the Blind
 
Citing successful outreach efforts made by the Board of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB), the National Federation of the Blind and other partners, Governor M. Jodi Rell announced today that the state will continue to offer Connecticut Newsline and Job Line services to the blind and visually impaired in 2006.  In November 2004, Governor Rell announced the return of both telephone services after each fell victim to budget cuts in prior years.
 
“Connecticut Newsline allows users to listen to a wide variety of newspaper articles. We have registered over 800 individuals for this service since it returned to Connecticut,” Governor Rell said.
 
Newsline subscribers can access over 200 newspapers and magazines nationwide, including 10 Connecticut newspapers.  The current list of available newspapers includes the Hartford Courant, New Haven Register, New York Times, Boston Globe and the Washington Post.  The service has added an all-Spanish option this year, with two Spanish newspapers.  Those interested in receiving Newsline can call (866) 504-7300.
 
Job Line enables users to search America’s Job Bank, which contains a listing of thousands of vacancies nationwide.  The service allows each user to narrow searches to job titles or specific towns.  Job Line logged in 574 calls over the past year, with a total of 3420 minutes of job search activity occurring over the telephone line by job seekers in Connecticut.  The Governor commended BESB staff and the partner organizations for their efforts in making the public aware of Job Line and in helping visually impaired state residents to find employment.  Job Line can be accessed from any touch-tone telephone by dialing (800) 414-5748.
 
Betty Woodward, Spokesperson for the National Federation of the Blind of Connecticut says that “Newsline has put me in touch with the world because I can read both local and national newspapers. Job Line makes it possible to learn about job openings simply by making a phone call.”
 
Connecticut Newsline and Job Line are products of the Baltimore-based National Federation of the Blind.
 
 




Content Last Modified on 10/22/2010 8:22:03 AM