by Nola McKinney

Back in the '50s (pardon me for showing my age), there used to be a section of the Perry Como television show that always began with a small song that said, "Letters, we get letters ..." and that's just what the awards committee is asking for. We want lots and lots of letters nominating your most admired folks for awards.

I know we bug you a lot, but we truly mean it this time. Our committee will be meeting soon to decide who gets the thrill of being called up to the stage on Sunday night, the first night of convention, to receive one of the many awards. In order to do that, we need your nominating letters. So put on your thinking caps and decide just who you feel deserves this honor.

The Robert S. Bray Award is given to a person who has made a contribution for improving library technology or communication devices. It could also be given for expanding access for blind people, or making opportunities within the mainstream media.

The George Card Award is given to an individual who has dedicated his or her life to work with and for blind people, making a real difference and improving quality of life, for providing leadership and being a positive role model.

The Durward K. McDaniel Ambassador Award is one of our most popular awards. It is given in recognition of a blind person who may or may not be a member of a blindness organization but who has spent his or her life integrating with the community.

The Distinguished Service Award is periodically given to individuals who have made important contributions which have advanced opportunities for the blind community. This award can be given to an individual or an organization.

The Affiliate Growth Award is based on the greatest increase in membership, as determined by the 2004-2005 membership reports.

The Affiliate Outreach Award is based on a recommendation by an affiliate president, which recognizes a local chapter for a new outreach program. This program must have a measurable outcome.

All of these awards are worthy of your attention. Please write a letter of recommendation for that certain someone who you know to be deserving of an award. This is a small effort, but it creates deep feelings of appreciation and lasting memories. Send your letters to the awards committee, in care of the national office in Washington, D.C.

Board of Publications Awards

Each year at the national convention of the American Council of the Blind, the board of publications (affectionately known as the BOP) presents awards. The first is the Ned E. Freeman Award, instituted in 1970 and named for the first president of the American Council of the Blind who, after completing his term of office, became editor of "The Braille Forum."

The board of publications accepts submissions for the Freeman Award from any writer on a topic of interest to readers of "The Braille Forum." Submissions may be published in the magazine if space allows. Articles appearing in the "Forum" between April 2004 and March 2005 are automatically eligible. Materials published by an ACB affiliate are also welcome. Send a print, braille or electronic copy of the published article accompanied by a letter of nomination.

While mastery of the craft of writing is a major consideration by BOP voters, favorable choices in the past seem to have been made because of interesting subject matter, originality in recounting an experience, or novelty of approach. A Freeman Award winner will receive a plaque and $100.

The Vernon Henley Award was established in 1988 to honor the man who created and first produced ACB Reports, a radio presentation distributed to radio reading services around the country. At the time of his death, he was chair of the board of publications, having assisted editors by conducting writing workshops and by recording for them on audiocassette materials otherwise not available to them. The award is presented to a person, either sighted or blind, who has made a positive difference in the media -- whether in radio, TV, magazines, or daily newspapers -- which may change public attitudes to recognize the capabilities of people who are blind, rather than focusing on outdated stereotypes and misconceptions. Programs and/or articles written and produced specifically for a visually impaired audience, as well as those intended for the general public, are eligible. Multiple articles or programs submitted by one author or organization will be judged as separate entries. The Henley Award is intended to be a vehicle for publicizing ACB throughout the general media, and to encourage excellence and accuracy in electronic and print coverage of items relating to blindness.

Recipients of these awards for the last five years are ineligible to enter the contests. Freeman Award winners 2000-2004: Ken Stewart, Lisa Mauldin, Barry Levine, Mike Godino, and Rebecca Shields; Henley Award winners 2000-2004: Jonathan Mosen, Carol Greenwald and Mathayu Lane, Pat Price, and Mark Ashby and Potomac Talking Book Services. Nor are those who are members of the ACB national office staff, members of the board of directors or board of publications during the awarding period eligible for the Freeman or the Henley awards.

Submissions for both awards must be postmarked no later than April 1, 2005. All submissions should be accompanied by a cover letter providing details about the submission, its origin, and any other pertinent information. Include your return address in the cover letter, and, if you want your manuscript returned, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Send submissions to ACB Board of Publications Awards, 1155 15th St. NW, Suite 1004, Washington, DC 20005.

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