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Helen Keller National Center Recognizes Congressmen with Inaugural “Dr. Robert J. Smithdas Award”

L-R Ivy Sahneya, Congressman Israel, Dr. Francis Casale, and Sue Ruzenski, acting executive director of HKNC
L-R Ivy Sahneya, Congressman Israel, Dr. Francis Casale, and Sue Ruzenski, acting executive director of HKNC

The Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults (HKNC), announced its inaugural “Dr. Robert J. Smithdas Award.”  Coinciding with Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week, taking place from June 22-June 28, 2014, this year’s award recipients include Congressmen Kevin Yoder (R-KS), Mark Takano (D-CA) and Steve Israel (D-NY).  READ MORE.  CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS

 

“Dr. Robert J. Smithdas is being honored for his tireless advocacy and leadership influencing the development of services for individuals who are deaf-blind,” stated Sue Ruzenski, acting executive director of HKNC.  “As one of the founders of HKNC, among his many other accomplishments we could not think of a more appropriate person to honor.”

 

This year, Representatives Takano and Yoder have revived the Congressional Deaf Caucus, which will provide a forum for advocacy and policy leadership to improve the lives of deaf Americans. The Award recognizes them for bringing issues of concern to the deaf community back into the congressional spotlight and to inform the caucus of those priorities that also cross into the Deaf-Blind Community. Both have constantly advocated for the needs of individuals who are deaf and deaf-blind, of critical importance at this time, as combined hearing and vision loss affect more and more aging baby boomers.

 

Congressman Israel has always been an ardent supporter of HKNC, and as its local Representative, he is the Center’s prime point of contact. The Award acknowledges the hard work he and his office undertake in their constant advocacy on behalf of the Center and the American Deaf-Blind Community.

 

With its Washington advocacy group Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP, HKNC has worked to publicly elevate awareness of people who are deaf-blind to a national level, and to highlight their abilities to become fully integrated into American life.  

About the Helen Keller National Center

 

The Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults(HKNC) is the only comprehensive national program that provides vocational and rehabilitation services exclusively to youths and adults who are deaf-blind. The residential-based training program, located at its headquarters in Sands Point, NY, provides assessment, short-term vocational and rehabilitation training (including employment, assistive technology, communication, orientation and mobility, independent living, creative arts, audiology, low vision, and support services) and assistance to consumers in locating employment, housing, and community resources in their home states.

 

Its Community Services Program provides community based assessment and training to individuals who are deaf-blind living in the NY metropolitan area. Field services include 11 regional offices and services to senior citizens.  HKNC is a national resource for professionals in the field of deaf-blindness and provides training seminars both on campus and in the community. Professional internships are also available.

 

HKNC supports the National Family Association for Deaf-Blind and is a partner with the National Center on Deaf-Blindness and many other organizations across the country. HKNC also maintains a national registry of individuals who are deaf-blind.

 

The Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths & Adults is operated by Helen Keller Services for the Blind whose mission is to enable individuals who are blind, visually impaired, deaf-blind, and/or have combined hearing and vision loss to live, work, and thrive in their community of choice.

 

 

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