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Holman Prize

And the 2022 Holman Prizewinners Are…

And the 2022 Holman Prizewinners Are…

We are pleased to announce the winners of the sixth annual Holman Prize for Blind Ambition. The Holman Prize awards up to $25,000 each to three blind people who have ambitious ideas that challenge misperceptions about blindness while also challenging themselves. The Holman Prize is named for James Holman, a 19th century blind explorer who was the most prolific private traveler of anyone, blind or sighted, before the era of modern transportation.  

In July, an international panel of 10 blind leaders spent two days selecting the three winners of this year’s prize. 

Introducing The 2022 Holman Prizewinners  

Abby Griffith, 28 – United States 

Photo caption: Abby Griffith sitting at her desk

Griffith will empower blind and low vision youth in Ethiopia by providing Braille reading and writing devices to students at the School for the Blind in Wolayta. When told over Zoom that she had won, Griffith covered her face in astonishment and cried tears of happiness, grateful for the opportunity to fund services for economically disadvantaged blind youth in her native Ethiopia.   

Holman Prize judge and blind chemist, Dr. Hoby Wedler said, “Abby is a truly extraordinary blind leader. She came to the United States, learned how to use assistive technology, and wants to bring her learnings of access tech and braille back to her homeland! This is truly remarkable and game changing.  

Cassie Hames, 33 – Australia  

Photo caption: Cassie standing at a bus stop wearing a reflective vest and holding her cane

Hames will develop “See Me,” an app that communicates with bus drivers to request them to stop to allow a visually impaired person to board, making independent travel on public transportation safer and more accessible for the blind. Hames’ exact response upon being told she is one of this year’s winners was, “Holy moly!” followed by an eruption of laughter and tears of shock and joy. 

Holman Prize judge and blind author, Dr. M. Leona Godin, said, “I was struck by Cassie’s tenacity demonstrated in her 90 second video pitch. Cassie is a woman with a clear and important project, and the will and ability to make it happen.”  

Tafadzwa Nyamuzihwa, 38 – Germany 

Photo caption: Tafadzwa speaking into a microphone

Nyamuzihwa, an experienced DJ, will open recording studios in Zimbabwe and Uganda that will employ and train blind and low vision people to become radio presenters. When informed that he had won, Nyamuzihwa began dancing around the room.  
 
Sarah Harris, Disability Rights Advocate and Holman Prize judge said, “Tafadzwa’s insight and passion to change perspectives and stigmas in regard to blindness are thoughtful and heartfelt.” 

LightHouse is thrilled to have Waymo as a partner and thanks them for their generosity in sponsoring of one of the three prizes this year.  

For more information contact 
Christina Daniels at 415-694-7315 or press@lighthouse-sf.org 
About the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired 
Founded in 1902, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is the largest organization in Northern California providing skills, resources and community for the advancement of all individuals who are blind or have low vision.  
Email: info@lighthouse-sf.org and visit: 
www.lighthouse-sf.org/Holman-prize 

A Summer Recap from Our 2021 Holman Prizewinners

A Summer Recap from Our 2021 Holman Prizewinners

Our 2021 Holman Prizewinners, Maud Rowell, Aaron Cannon and Robert Malunda have all been busily working through their Holman Prize year. Here’s an update on what they’ve been up to this summer.

Maud Rowell

Photo caption: Maud Rowell standing near the water on Shiraishi Island, wearing a long blue dress

Maud Rowell is in Japan, traveling across the country independently, including visits to rural and remote areas, solely by foot and public transportation. She writes:

“After arriving in Japan at the start of June in an empty airport, I made my way to the northernmost island to begin my journey. There, I spent ten days living in a ramen shop in an Ainu (who are indigenous people of northern Japan) village, saw pools of Sulphur and rising smoke in Hell Valley, walked among fields of multicolored flowers, and climbed a mountain to see the sun set and the moon rise from the top. 

“Next, I began moving south, enjoying Shinto festivals, stunning coastal walks, fields of free horses, mountaintop temples, rainbows, jellyfish, and brilliant green crater lakes, all in the region north of Tokyo. I continued south, spending a week on a remote island in the Inland Sea with fewer than 400 inhabitants and a single small grocery store. On this island, I explored ancient shrines and pilgrimage routes in the mountains, went kayaking, and saw spectacular sunsets every single night. 

“I am now in Hiroshima prefecture, having spent a few days in the city visiting the Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima Castle, and the famous gardens Shukkei-en. I’m spending time on the island of Miyajima, climbing more mountains, wandering among deer, and painting the shrine that floats on top of the water when the tide comes in. 

I’ve been lucky in the way of kind people, great food, and many wonderful and interesting things that I’m excited to try to bring to life with the book and the photographs I’m taking!”

Want to follow Maud’s journey, visit her Instagram account, @where.birds.wont.go.

Aaron Cannon

Aaeon Cannon

Photo caption: A portrait of Aaron Cannon

Aaron created Lower Dots, which shows how blind people can learn to do math accessibly and will soon be hosted on a website. Here’s what he’s been up to this summer:

“On Thursday, July 7, I had the opportunity to address the Science and Engineering Division of the National Federation of the Blind at their convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. This opportunity seemed particularly appropriate for this project, as there were a couple other presentations which dealt with math education. One which was particularly notable for me was a presentation on a new Nemeth Code curriculum and a free online Nemeth symbol reference library. I have no doubt that the symbol reference site in particular will be invaluable to both me, and Lower Dots users. 

“In my presentation, I talked about my guiding principles for the project, such as that it be free forever, both in terms of cost and in terms of licensing (Creative Commons). Another principle that I discussed was that the site needs to serve the lowest common denominator, i.e. people with no braille display, people with only a free screen reader, and people on very low bandwidth connections. In addition, I took the opportunity to play a brief demo of the lesson page, which is arguably the true heart of the website.”

Robert Malunda

Photo caption: Robert Malunda trains students on keyboards in a library in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Robert is providing Access Technology, Orientation & Mobility and social skills training to blind Zimbabweans in rural locations through his organization Gateway to Elation. He writes:

In July and August, I reached seven students face-to-face and twenty online, mostly in the city of Bulawayo. I also increased online lessons in orientation & mobility.

“At Gateway to Elation, learning online involves experimenting on apps. In July, I focused on Zoom and Clubhouse. Due to COVID-19 regulations events like church services, schools and other activities are now happening online on places like Clubhouse and Zoom, so blind people do not have to be left out as they seek access to information and knowledge.”

Introducing the 2022 Holman Prize Finalists!

Introducing the 2022 Holman Prize Finalists!

LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is thrilled to announce the ten 2022 Holman Prize for Blind Ambition finalists. 
 
Named for 19th century blind explorer James Holman, the prize awards up to $25,000 each to three blind people each year with ambitious ideas that will change perceptions about blindness worldwide.
 
This year we have five women and five men as our finalists.
 
We would also like to thank Waymo for their sponsorship of one of this year’s three Holman Prizes.
 
The finalists, in no particular order, are:
 
Abby Griffith, age 28
Country: United States
Proposal: Empower blind and low vision youth of Ethiopia by providing Braille reading and writing devices to students at the school for the blind in Ethiopia
 
Josh Tseng, age 24
Country: Singapore
Proposal: Produce an online video series “Blind Guy Tries Everything” that will document adventures and try as many things as possible that would be considered unfathomable for people who are blind or have low vision
 
Fiona Demark, age 45
Country: Australia
Proposal: Video series “Dougherty Dares Downunder,” will challenge blind perceptions by completing a series of dares and activities

Ernie Heredero, age 33
Country: Philippines
Proposal: Open a “Dining in the Dark” style restaurant in Palawan and employ all staff who are blind or have low vision
 
Flor Jimenez, age 46
Country: United States
Proposal: Promote and support adaptive sports for blind and low vision youth in Latin America
 
Arron George, age 32
Country: Trinidad and Tobago
Proposal: Record seven studio albums and provide studio time, instrumental creation, mixing and mastering, social media marketing, website creation, photo shoots and music videos for blind artists
 
Oluwakemi Odusanya, age 29
Country: Nigeria
Proposal: Provide leadership training to women who are blind or have low vision in Nigeria
 
Kesah Princely, age 24
Country: Cameroon
Proposal: Blind Youth Leadership Development Program will provide blindness training and advocacy to youth in Cameroon who are blind or have low vision

Cassie Hames, age 33
Country: Australia
Proposal: Create “See Me,” a fully integrated app that communicates with bus drivers and notifies drivers of approaching bus stops, making independent travel on public transportation safer and more accessible for the blind
 
Tafadzwa Nyamuzihwa, age 38
Country: Germany
Proposal: “Shining Star” will open recording studios in two African countries that will employ and train blind and low vision people to become radio and audio entertainers
 
What happens next? This July, a panel of judges from all over the world will gather virtually to choose the three winners; stay tuned to find out who they will be.

Introducing This Year’s Holman Prize Semifinalists

Introducing This Year’s Holman Prize Semifinalists

LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired San Francisco, and the Holman Prize team are thrilled to announce this year’s Holman Prize semifinalists! Each year the Holman Prize awards up to $25,000 each to three blind people with ideas that will challenge misconceptions about blindness worldwide. LightHouse thanks Waymo for their support of the Holman Prize for the second year.

This year, 37 contestants from 18 countries will advance to the next round of judging. Three of these bold, boundary-pushing, blind leaders will become a 2022 Holman Prizewinner. Which three will win? Continue to follow this year’s Holman Prize journey to find out!

2022 Holman Prize Semifinalists (in no particular order)

Click on each name to watch their YouTube pitch or watch the entire 2022 Holman Prize Semifinalists Playlist.

Emilee Schevers, age 20
Country: Canada
Proposal: “The Tru Faces of Change,” a social media campaign to bring awareness and positive social change for those with disabilities

Sunny Ezurike, age 52
Country: Portugal 
Proposal: Transcription of university textbooks into accessible formats for students in Nigeria who are blind or have low vision

Dennis Gallant, age 69
Country: United States
Proposal: A walk across the country on the America Discovery Trail with his guide dog

Gerda Oosthuizen, age 52
Country: South Africa
Proposal: Create and manufacture Velcro eye patches for people recovering from eye surgeries

Andrey Tikhonov, age 36
Country: Poland
Proposal: “Blind Power” will create conditioning and trainings, accessible workout books, and a sports camp for blind athletes

Philip Thorn, age 52
Country: New Zealand
Proposal: Create “Survivor to Thriver,” a mentorship and motivational service for those recovering from illnesses or accidents that have made them disabled

Kesah Princely, age 24
Country: Cameroon
Proposal: Blind Youth Leadership Development Program will provide blindness training and advocacy to youth in Cameroon who are blind or have low vision

Duel Adams, age 52
Country: United States
Proposal: Create a YouTube series, “Sensory Explorations with the Blind Traveler,” documenting different sensory experiences traveling the world

Greg Christie, age 69
Country: Scotland
Proposal: Turn Millport, Scotland into a VI-friendly tourist destination by creating an accessible mountain climbing trail as well as accessible signage and trail maps

Abby Griffith, age 28
Country: United States
Proposal: Empower blind and low vision youth of Ethiopia by providing Braille reading and writing devices to students at the school for the blind in Ethiopia

Paschal Baute, age 92
Country: United States
Proposal: Write and publish, “Guide for the Pursuit of Blind Ambition,” a book of interviews and stories from previous Holman Prizewinners to inspire and encourage other blind people

Tafadzwa Nyamuzihwa, age 37
Country: Germany
Proposal: “Shining Star” will open recording studios in two African countries that will employ and train blind and low vision people to become radio and audio entertainers

Ernie Heredero, age 32
Country: Philippines
Proposal: Open a “Dining in the Dark” style restaurant in Palawan and employ all staff who are blind or have low vision

Arron George, age 31
Country: Trinidad and Tobago
Proposal: Record seven studio albums and provide studio time, instrumental creation, mixing and mastering, social media marketing, website creation, photo shoots and music videos for blind artists

Sergei Panus, age 44
Country: Russia
Proposal: Create an app designed to teach blind people to speak English

Raquel Alim, age 38
Country: United States
Proposal: Empower, educate, and enhance the lives of individuals who are blind or have low vision  by creating art

Josh Tseng, age 24
Country: Singapore
Proposal: Produce an online video series “Blind Guy Tries Everything” that will document adventures and try as many things as possible that would be considered unfathomable for people who are blind or have low vision

Fiona Demark, age 45
Country: Australia
Proposal: Video series “Dougherty Dares Downunder,” will challenge blind perceptions by completing a series of dares and activities

Griffin Pinkow, age 29
Country: United States
Proposal: Create a ranch-style program for youth who are blind or have low vision ages 8 to 18 where they can participate in activities such as horseback riding, fly fishing and learning about nature

Keisha Bass, age 32
Country: United States
Proposal: Make clothing shopping accessible for the blind by creating descriptive labels in Braille, large print, and QR-coded accessible digital labels

Cassie Hames, age 32
Country: Australia
Proposal: Create “See Me,” a fully integrated app that communicates with bus drivers and notifies drivers of approaching bus stops, making independent travel on public transportation safer and more accessible for the blind

Pawan Ghimire, age 43
Country: Nepal
Proposal: Train girls who are blind or have low vision how to play cricket and host a tournament for blind cricket players.

Kaiya Armstrong, age 21
Country: United States
Proposal: Learn to fly an airplane and pilot a flight from Arizona to Washington D.C.

Patrick Sheridan O’Donnell, age 32
Country: United States
Proposal: Develop, research, and write a feature film script that will be directed and filmed by a blind filmmaker

Krystle Allen, age 38
Country: United States
Proposal: Hold a global search for the ultimate title holders for a pageant created for women who are blind or have low vision called the Ms. Blind Diva Empowerment Pageant

Parkhat Yussupjanov, age 38
Country: Kazakhstan
Proposal: Adopt Uyghur Braille script for blind Uyghurs in Central Asian Countries

Ben Fox, age 39
Country: United States
Proposal: Start a monthly online media and storytelling workshop specifically created for people who are blind or have low vision

Saksham Kumar, age 17 – The People’s Choice Semifinalist! Saksham received the most likes on his YouTube pitch.
Country: India
Proposal: Inform people about misconceptions of educating blind students in India and advocate for accessible solution such as blind students being able to write their own test answers instead of having to use a scribe.

Julie McGinnity, age 31
Country: United States
Proposal: Interview blind parents from all over the country and tell their stories in a published anthology with a blog and resource center online called the Blind Parents Collective

Courtney Cole, age 24
Country: United States
Proposal: Create an international documentary about people with disabilities travelling around the world

Jeanetta Price, age 44
Country: United States
Proposal: Hold “WRITE 2 HEAL: Take Back Your Name” seminars for blind writers, artists, and performers

Minh Ha, age 28
Country: United States
Proposal: Create tactile art and coloring books for adults and children who are blind or have low vision

Joshua Aveno and Madison Javier, ages 30
Country: United States
Proposal: “Fresh Access” will make farmers markets accessible for blind and low vision people

Oluwakemi Odusanya, age 29
Country: Nigeria
Proposal: Provide leadership training to women who are blind or have low vision in Nigeria

Flor Jimenez, age 46
Country: United States
Proposal: Promote and support adaptive sports for blind and low vision youth in Latin America

Stay up to date with announcements and follow the journeys and achievements of former Holman Prizewinners by following the Holman Prize on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

2021 Holman Prizewinner Robert Malunda’s “Gateway to Elation”

2021 Holman Prizewinner Robert Malunda’s “Gateway to Elation”

(Listen to the complete interview above.)

Last July, fifteen blind and low vision judges from all over the world met to choose which three of the fourteen 2021 Holman Prize finalists would become the next Holman Prizewinners. After hours of passionate discussions and debate held over an entire weekend via Zoom, LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin and the LightHouse Communications team that help facilitate the annual Holman Prize Award were tasked with the honorable job of breaking the great congratulatory news to the newly named 2021 Holman Prizewinners. Meanwhile, in a home a world away in Zimbabwe, Africa, Holman finalist Robert Malunda was hard at work turning his dreams of making trainings, resources, and education for the blind and low vision individuals of Zimbabwe a reality.

“Congratulations, Robert! You are one of the winners of the 2021 Holman Prize!” Bryan Bashin excitedly exclaimed.

Though his demeanor was calm, you couldn’t help but hear the ear-to-ear smile in the prizewinner’s voice as he graciously accepted the award and expressed the kindest and most sincere gratitude. “Thank you, so much,” said Robert Malunda. “I am truly grateful. I will not let James Holman or the Holman Prize down,” he stated, as the audible happiness and pride in his voice brought joyful tears to the eyes of the LightHouse staff as they continued to congratulate him.

Robert Malunda was born on August 15, 1988, in Bulawayo in the Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe. As an infant, Robert developed glaucoma. Due to limited availability of specialists and treatments, Robert lost his sight completely around three years old. Growing up blind in Zimbabwe can be incredibly difficult, as resources for blind and low vision children are very limited, but Robert’s family was determined to send their son to school.

“It was a very important decision, taking me to school,” Robert explains. “Most blind people in Zimbabwe do not go to school. So, I was taken to school at a relatively young age—around six years old. I was taught the same skills as a sighted person, but it was mostly academic in the mainstream school.”

While attending primary school as a child, Robert received fairly regular Braille instruction by a visiting teacher and was taught the same curriculum as sighted children, however, he did not receive any regular blindness skills education, such as orientation and mobility or assistive technology training. And although Robert was very successful in the classroom with his knowledge of Braille and applying his impeccable auditory-learning skills, having a lack of further blindness education left him with a disadvantage. It was when Robert attended Midlands State University of Zimbabwe that he found himself in the proverbial “pickle.”

“Before, I used to depend on the sight of my friends for studying. There were no books or accessible resources for the blind, so we had to ask friends to read for us. So, that is when I asked myself how I can do what I need to do for university by myself. I heard a lot of things about computers. I knew there are really a lot of great things about computers and what they can do for other people, so I was inquisitive on how this can be of help to the blind. I started to teach myself to use Microsoft Word and other word processing programs. I wanted to learn more and teach other blind people how to use these computers, too.”

At university, Robert began exploring what little he could on the computers made available to the students at the school. He shared his ambition with a friend in the United Kingdom. They then sent Robert a computer of his own. He began working with screen reading software programs like JAWS, and through much trial and error he was able to successfully navigate his way through university, sharing and teaching the tech skills he’d learned with his friends and peers along the way.

Learning how to be independent with the help of computers is what gave Robert the idea for his organization and Holman Prize project, Gateway to Elation. The purpose of this organization is to provide computer, orientation & mobility, and social skills training to blind Zimbabweans in rural areas across the country. Many blind people do not have any formal education like Robert was able to receive, therefore the employment and independence rate of the blind in Zimbabwe is very, very low. Robert Malunda will personally travel to these areas of the country where there are no government provided services or funding of any kind for blind people.

“My vision has been to reach as many people as possible,” Robert explains. “My Holman year will be spent mostly traveling around the country meeting new people and new blind people, those in the rural areas and even those in the cities, because life for a blind person is almost the same for those in the city as in the rural areas, because we face the same challenges. We can’t access information; we can’t access what other people do access easily…. Blind people in Zimbabwe often experience isolation. I envision a Zimbabwe where blind people are knowledgeable, independent and socially interactive.”

Technology training may have been the driving force for Gateway to Elation in the beginning, but Robert recognizes the isolation experienced by so many blind and low vision people in Zimbabwe reaches far beyond the lack of access to assistive technology. For example, there is a huge stigma about using a white cane. This is a problem seen everywhere in the world, but particularly in Zimbabwe, Robert explained.

“In primary school, I had heard that there is something called Mobility and Orientation, but it was not something I was taught. I did not even own a cane, which I think was a disadvantage for me. I received my first cane at 16, I did not use it. I think it was understood if you weren’t using the cane when you were young, then naturally it would mean that you won’t use it when you grow up. But for me, I realized that stigmatization needs to change. When I was at university it was difficult especially trying to navigate a big campus. Using a cane is very important for being independent if you want to go out on your own or do your own shopping. Being at university isn’t like a being at school as a child when these things are done for you.”

Robert wants to break the barriers and stigma of blind people and their use of a white cane for independent travel. Implementing orientation and mobility practices at an early age will help change the misconceptions of cane users and empower young blind and low vision children to take pride in using their canes and grow to become independent people. Robert also believes that by introducing social skills exercises while providing trainings for groups of blind and low vision people will create opportunity for socialization and community for those who ordinarily would not have these experiences. The isolation of people with varying disabilities in Zimbabwe from the general public makes it increasingly harder for these people to seek the resources and education needed to adapt to their environment.

Robert’s dream of building Gateway to Elation has been growing since 2016 and in 2018 he began researching funding opportunities.

“When I was searching for grants for Gateway to Elation was when I came across the LightHouse for the Blind and the Holman Prize. I made a pitch video that year, and then I did another pitch in 2019, I still have those pitches with me, but I did not actually apply. It was finally in 2021 when I decided to apply.”

Robert’s passion for his work can be heard in every word he speaks, and his expectations of changing the lives of blind and low vision people in Zimbabwe for the better do not end after the completion of his Holman Prize year.

“I also want to start a podcast. Even after my Holman Prize year ends, the podcast and YouTube channels will continue to document the lives of other blind people. The more people I reach the more blind people will be empowered and the more blind people can become more employable. The end goal is for them to be employed or able to use these skills for the betterment of their lives, either in school or professionally.”

Since winning the Holman Prize, Robert and Gateway to Elation have received wonderful responses. “It is a very prestigious award, the Holman Prize for Blind Ambition,” Robert explains. “The value and all the popularity of Gateway to Elation among the people of Zimbabwe, it is really amazing.”

For more about Robert Malunda and his journey teaching the blind across Zimbabwe, you can follow his organization Gateway to Elation on Facebook and on the Gateway to Elation website. Stay tuned for more updates on his progress and accomplishments as the Holman Prizewinner’s year continues.

The 2022 Holman Prize  applications are now open! Do you have your own Holman objective? Turn your idea into a tangible passion project and think about how you can present what Blind Ambition means to you in a 90-second pitch video and submit your application between now and March 20. For more information visit the Holman Prize website. Have fun dreaming up your Holman Prize Ambition, and who knows? You might just be one of this year’s three amazing winners!

Applications for the LightHouse for the Blind – San Francisco 2022 Holman Prize open January 21

Applications for the LightHouse for the Blind – San Francisco 2022 Holman Prize open January 21

Now in its sixth year, the Holman Prize for Blind Ambition annually awards up to $25,000 each to three blind people from around the world who have an incredible idea that will shatter misconceptions about blindness.

The Holman Prize is named after James Holman, a blind 19th century explorer who is the most prolific private traveler of anyone, blind or sighted, before the era of modern transportation.

The only qualifications for the Holman Prize are that you must be blind or legally blind, speak English and that you must be 18 years old by October 1, 2022.

When applications open on January 21, all you have to do is make a 90-second video pitching your idea and upload it to YouTube, and fill out the application form on the Holman Prize website.

Your idea can involve great personal growth or literally be on any topic, as long as you are the originator and leader of your ambitious Holman Prize objective and you are blind or legally blind: technology, the Arts, Braille, accessibility, transportation, travel, community, learning a skill, teaching a skill, launching a business, providing a service – smashing any boundary and changing perceptions.

You will have until March 20, 2022 to submit your application, but don’t leave it to the last minute because during the application period, you can be collecting as many ‘likes’ on YouTube as possible, so you’re in the running for the “People’s Choice Award.” The applicant whose video has the most “likes” automatically becomes a semi finalist.

We are thrilled to announce that Waymo is again sponsoring the Holman Prize for Blind Ambition this year. Thank you Waymo for your continued support of this global prize.

For more information on the Holman Prize visit the Holman Prize website and if you don’t find your answer there, email us at holman@lighthouse-sf.org.

Spread the word about the Holman Prize and follow Holman Prize on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

We can’t wait to watch your videos and celebrate your blind ambition!

For inspiration, check out the 2021 Holman Prize finalist video playlist.

More information about the Holman Prize!

And the 2021 Holman Prizewinners Are…

And the 2021 Holman Prizewinners Are…

The LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco is pleased to announce the winners of the fifth annual Holman Prize for Blind Ambition.

Last month an international panel of blind leaders came together virtually to select the three winners of the 2021 Holman Prize.

Launched in 2017, the Holman Prize awards up to $25,000 each to three blind people with ambitious ideas that will challenge misperceptions about blindness worldwide. We’re pleased to partner with Waymo whose support is deep and continuing as a sponsor of one of these prizes. The Holman Prize is named for James Holman, a 19th century blind explorer who was the most prolific private traveler of anyone, blind or sighted, before the era of modern transportation.

Aaron Cannon

Aaron Cannon, 41 – USA

Cannon will use the Holman Prize to build accessible math training modules containing many lessons showing how blind people can learn to do math. These will be shared on a website. Of the endeavor, Cannon says, “This is a project I really believe in. There is something particularly impactful for a student being taught a complex subject that they think they are going to have difficulty with because of their blindness. But if there is a blind person teaching it to them, that kind of goes away. The subject may be hard, but not because of blindness.”

Robert Malunda

Robert Malunda, 33 – Zimbabwe

Malunda will use the Holman Prize to provide computer, orientation & mobility and social skills training to blind Zimbabweans in rural locations. Malunda will personally visit these areas were there are no government services of any kind for blind people. Says Malunda, “Blind people in Zimbabwe often experience isolation. I envision a Zimbabwe where blind people are knowledgeable, independent and socially interactive.”

Maud Rowell

Maud Rowell, 25 – United Kingdom

Rowell will travel across Japan independently including visits to rural and remote areas, solely by foot and public transportation. “I truly believe my project – travelling the length of Japan and writing a book – embodies the spirit of the Holman Prize: it’s ambitious, adventurous, and creative, and it’s absolutely driven by passion and a desire to challenge myself and others’ perceptions of the blind,” she says.

Bryan Bashin, LightHouse CEO, says of the winners, “This year the Holman judges selected three ambitious people from three continents to push the boundaries of blindness. In Zimbabwe, Robert Malunda will go to  the most distant parts of his country to expose blind people to modern attitudes and innovative techniques blind people use. In Japan, Maud Rowell will complete a Holmanesque journey to the most remote and little-visited parts of the Japanese archipelago, doing it solo and sensitively. And in the USA Aaron Cannon will develop a series of blind-friendly tutorials and methods for blind people to learn mathematics, a key subject for later academic and vocational success. We look forward to seeing how each of these three remarkable people will change attitudes about blindness and our ambition.”

Meet the Distinguished 2021 Holman Prize Jurors

Meet the Distinguished 2021 Holman Prize Jurors

A few weeks ago, we introduced you to the fourteen 2021 Holman Prize for Blind Ambition Finalists. Three from this ambitious group of blind people who want to challenge misconceptions about what it means to be blind will be selected as winners of our fifth annual Holman Prize for Blind Ambition. A special thanks goes to Waymo for sponsoring one of this year’s winners.

But who chooses the winners? Each year a panel of esteemed blindness leaders from around the world come together for discussion and debate to select the winners of the Holman Prize. All committee members are themselves blind.

For the second consecutive year, our committee will meet virtually. The fifteen members of this year’s committee reside in six countries and work in a variety of fields from law to computer science, to academia, to leadership roles in blindness organizations.

Learn more about them below.

The 2021 Holman Prize Committee

Martine Abel-Williamson, QSM
Auckland, New Zealand
President, World Blind Union

Martine is employed as a Senior Human Rights Advisor for the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. She’s on the boards of the Accessible Books Consortium, Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind and Blind Citizens NZ. She also holds pan-disability roles as a board member of Disability Connect, a pan-disability service provider.

Bryan Bashin
Berkeley, California, USA
CEO, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Bryan has led a diverse life since he graduated UC Berkeley in history and journalism. He first spent 15 years as a journalist in television, radio and print, specializing in science news. In 1998 Bryan was hired as Executive Director of the Sacramento Society for the Blind, where he quintupled the number of hours of teaching and developed innovative programs such as the Senior Intensive Retreat and summer immersion camps. In 2004 he was hired as the Region IX assistant regional commissioner for the United States Department of Education’s west coast branch of RSA, overseeing funding for $500 million in federal disability programs. In 2010 he was hired to lead the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco, leading a staff of 140.

Jason Fayre
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
National Lead, Accessibility and Assistive Technology, CNIB

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 who are blind 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 who are blind or have low vision.

Karla Gilbride
Silver Springs, Maryland, USA
Senior Attorney, Public Justice

A graduate with honors of Georgetown Law, Karla clerked for Judge Ronald Gould on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Her current legal work focuses on fighting mandatory arbitration provisions imposed on consumers and workers that prevent them from holding corporations accountable for wrongdoing in court. She is also a board member for the National Employment Lawyers Association, and a member of the National Association of Consumer Advocates. She is an avid baseball fan and fantasy baseball nerd and enjoys hiking, cycling and playing goalball.

Georgina Kleege
Berkeley, California
Professor in Creative Writing and Disability Studies, UC Berkeley

Georgina has been teaching at UC Berkeley since 2003.  Her recent books include: Sight Unseen, Blind Rage: Letters to Helen Keller and More than Meets the Eye: What Blindness Brings to Art.

Karen Knight
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
General Manager of Client Services, Vision Australia

A proud Australian, Karen spent the first fifteen years of her career as a psychologist specializing in youth suicide prevention and mental health promotion. It is her lived experience and many years involvement in the consumer movement of blind people in Australia that has shaped her views about best practice in blindness service delivery. Karen is passionate about blind and visually impaired people living their dreams without the shackles imposed by others. Being out there telling blind positive stories is one way to change attitudes.

Karen has two young adult children and is a keen ballroom and Latin-American dancer.

Trisha Kulkarni
Dayton, Ohio, USA
B.S. Candidate in Computer Science, Stanford University

Trisha is an incoming senior at Stanford University studying computer science with a minor in creative writing. This summer, she is working as a software engineering intern within the Office Experience Organization at Microsoft, while also proudly serving as the President of the National Association of Blind Students. Kulkarni is humbled to be taking part in this incredible opportunity and looks forward to building our future together.

Jim Kutsch, PhD
Morristown, New Jersey, USA
Retired President, The Seeing Eye

Jim 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.

Jim Marks
Helena, Montana, USA
Program Director, Area IV Agency on Aging, Rocky Mountain Development Council

Previously, Jim served as the Director of Disability Services for Students at the University of Montana and as Montana’s director of vocational rehabilitation. Jim is the President of the National Federation of the Blind of Montana. He lives with his wife, Kathy. They have four adult children and six grandchildren.

Natalina Martiniello, PhD
Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Research Associate, Université de Montréal; President of Braille Literacy Canada

Natalina is a Research Associate and teaches in the Graduate program in Visual Impairment and Rehabilitation at the Université de Montréal, in Montreal, Canada. She is the President of Braille Literacy Canada (the Canadian Braille Authority) and a strong advocate for braille literacy and accessibility. As a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist, she has taught braille and access technologies to children, adults and seniors with visual impairments. Her research focuses on braille, adult learning and aging and on developing evidence-based strategies to support working-age and older adults who learn braille. An avid traveler, her most memorable trip was visiting the house of Louis Braille.

Florence Ndagire
Lawyer
Wakiso, Wakiso District, Uganda

Florence is the first visually impaired female lawyer in Uganda. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from Makerere University and a Master of Law in international and European human rights law at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom. She is currently enrolled at Makerere University in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and tropical medicine for her PhD research on access to reproductive health services by persons with disabilities in Uganda. She is the chairperson of the UN Women Regional civil society advisory group of East and Southern Africa. She is the current UNPRPD advisor. Florence is the primary author of “Will the proposed reforms in the mental health treatment act be consistent with Article 12 of the Convention on the rights of Persons with disabilities in Uganda?”

Walt Raineri
Northern California, USA
Partner Emeritus, Fenwick & West LLP

Walt’s legal and accounting professional, academic, philanthropic, entrepreneurial, and adaptive athletic sports careers span 45 years, and counting. He has practiced in the areas of international taxation, multinational mergers and acquisitions, and large group consolidations. Walt is also a CPA, a former Associate Professor at Golden Gate university, former Lecturer at UC Berkeley, and Stanford University. He founded four for profit companies, notably Ariat International, the equestrian clothing and footwear company. He is an alumnus of UC Berkeley School of Business Administration  and Georgetown university School of Law. Walt is a Paralympic level athlete in multiple sports and has a passion to help others achieve their fitness objectives. He has helped guide dozens of nonprofit organizations focused on supporting the visually impaired community.

Will Schell, J.D.
Washington, D.C.
Deputy Chief of the Disability Rights Office, Federal Communications Commission

Among other things, Will manages the Disability Rights Office complaints team, drafts various guidance and orders and engages in outreach with the disability community. He also serves as the Designated Federal Officer of the Commission’s Disability Advisory Committee, which provides advice and recommendations to the Commission on a wide array of disability issues within the FCC’s jurisdiction. Prior to that, Will was a disability rights attorney at the Office for Civil Rights and at Disability Rights California where he represented people in litigation to prevent them from unnecessary segregation.

Abby White
Oxford, England, UK
Co-founder and  Volunteer CEO, World Eye Cancer Hope

Abby’s mother was raised in France and her father in Kenya, where he was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma in 1946. Her globally scattered family inspired her love for travel and study of geography at university, with emphasis on development in sub-Saharan Africa. Abby co-founded World Eye Cancer Hope, responding to the needs of one child with retinoblastoma in Botswana, and the desire to help many more worldwide.  While working with the charity in 2015, Abby’s guide dog, Annie, became the first to visit Kenya – during a conference circuit that also took in South Africa and the USA.

She enjoys audio books, creative writing, open water swimming and long country walks. She lives in Oxford, England, with her current guide dog, Ritzie.

Joe Xavier
Elk Grove, California,
Director, California Department of Rehabilitation,

Joe Xavier has over 36 years of experience in business and public administration, as well as many years participating in advocacy and community organizations. As an immigrant, a blind consumer, a beneficiary of the DOR’s services, Joe has the experience and understands the challenges and opportunities available to individuals with disabilities, and the services required to maximize an individual’s full potential. Joe: believes in the talent and potential of individuals with disabilities;  in investing in the future through creativity, ingenuity and innovation; ensuring decisions and actions are informed by interested individuals and groups; in pursuing excellence through continuous improvement; and  preserving the public’s trust through compassionate and responsible provision of services.

 

Help Your Favorite Holman Prize Candidate Advance to the Semifinals

Help Your Favorite Holman Prize Candidate Advance to the Semifinals

Submissions for the 2021 Holman Prize for Blind Ambition have now closed and now you can help your favorite advance to the semifinals as the People’s Choice Semifinalist. The person with the most likes on their YouTube video will automatically advance to the semifinals and have a chance to compete to become a finalist.

Watch the 2021 Holman Prize Candidate Playlist and Vote Today!

Doubly Sweet: Meet the 2019 Holman Prizewinners and Attend a Chocolate Tasting, April 10

Doubly Sweet: Meet the 2019 Holman Prizewinners and Attend a Chocolate Tasting, April 10

Despite the disruptions of COVID-19, the 2019 Holman Prizewinners Mona Minkara, Alieu Jaiteh and Yuma Decaux completed their Holman Prize year in 2020, so it’s time to celebrate their incredible achievements.

On April 10, we will host a chocolate tasting, with Dr. Hoby Wedler who will take you on a journey through the chocolate making process, the delicate nuance of the flavors and other interesting facts. The fine chocolates are provided byQuail Point Chocolates. We’ll also hear from Alieu, Mona and Yuma about their Holman Prize adventures.

If you’d like the chocolate to try along at home, it’s $50 with enough chocolates for two tasters and $75 for a family box.

You can come to this Holman Prize event without the chocolate tasting for free.

The event takes place on April 10 from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm Pacific Time.

RSVP for Sweetening the Prize: Holman Prizewinner Celebration & Chocolate Tasting.