Saturday, January 29, 2011

Just read this in a discussion group today!
Very Exciting!!!!

> Chris Danielsen
> Director of Public Relations
> National Federation of the Blind
> (410) 659-9314, extension 2330
> (410) 262-1281 (Cell)
> Blind Man to Take to the Road
> at Daytona International Speedway
> Baltimore, Maryland (January 28, 2011):
> The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the oldest and largest
> organization of blind people in the nation, announced
> today that Mark Anthony Riccobono, a blind executive who directs
> technology, research, and education programs for the organization, will be
> the first blind
> individual to drive a street vehicle in public. Mr. Riccobono will be
> behind the wheel of a Ford Escape hybrid equipped with nonvisual
> technology allowing
> a blind person to drive it independently as part of a historic
> demonstration scheduled during pre-race activities leading up to the Rolex
> 24 at the Daytona
> International Speedway. The demonstration is set to take place at 11:30
> a.m. EST on January 29.
> Mr. Riccobono said: "I have been blind since the age of five, so I never
> got to try for a driver's license or drive a car without another person
> telling
> me which way to steer. The NFB's leadership in the Blind Driver
> Challenge(tm) has taken something almost everyone believed was an
> impossible dream and
> turned it into reality. I am looking forward to getting behind the wheel
> and demonstrating to the world that being blind does not prevent me from
> engaging
> in any activity I choose as long as I am able to get the information I
> need. This will be a truly historic occasion for my blind brothers and
> sisters
> and for America, and I am humbled and proud to be part of it."
> Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said:
> "The sight of a blind individual driving a vehicle without assistance from
> a sighted
> person will shake the foundation of public misconceptions about blindness
> and blind people by showing that even tasks that are thought to require
> vision
> are possible if a blind person has access to information in a nonvisual
> way. Vision is not a requirement for success. Capacity, imagination, and
> determination
> are all that is needed, and blind people have all of these qualities."
> Mr. Riccobono was the first director of the Wisconsin Center for the Blind
> and Visually Impaired, a state agency that serves Wisconsin's blind
> children.
> Since coming to the headquarters of the National Federation of the Blind
> in 2003, he has spearheaded many initiatives, including educational
> programs designed
> to engage blind youth in the fields of science, technology, engineering,
> and mathematics. He currently serves as executive director of the NFB
> Jernigan
> Institute. He and his wife Melissa, who has worked as a school counselor
> and serves as president of the Maryland affiliate of the NFB, live in
> Baltimore
> with their two small children, Austin and Oriana.
> The NFB Blind Driver Challenge(tm) is a research project of the National
> Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute-the only research and training
> facility
> on blindness operated by the blind. The Jernigan Institute challenged
> universities, technology developers, and other interested innovators to
> establish
> NFB Blind Driver Challenge(tm) (BDC) teams, in collaboration with the NFB,
> to build interface technologies that will empower blind people to drive a
> car
> independently. The purpose of the NFB Blind Driver Challenge(tm) is to
> stimulate the development of nonvisual interface technology. The Virginia
> Tech/TORC
> NFB BDC team, under the direction of Dr. Dennis Hong, Director of the
> Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory at Virginia Tech., is the only team
> that has accepted
> the challenge. The team uses the ByWire XGV(tm) developed by TORC
> technologies as the research platform for the development and testing of
> the nonvisual
> interface technologies that allow a blind person to drive.
> For more information about the NFB, please visit
> For our digital news release about the Blind Driver Challenge(tm) and the
> debut of the BDC car at the Rolex 24, including audio and video clips for
> television
> and radio, please visit
> ###
> About the National Federation of the Blind
> With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind is the
> largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in
> the United
> States. The NFB improves blind people's lives through advocacy,
> education, research, technology, and programs encouraging independence and
> self-confidence.
> It is the leading force in the blindness field today and the voice of the
> nation's blind. In January 2004 the NFB opened the National Federation of
> the
> Blind Jernigan Institute, the first research and training center in the
> United States for the blind led by the blind.

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