NEC Foundation of America Announces $303,600 in New Grants

Grants support technology for people with disabilities on a national level

Islandia, NY, May 9, 2006—NEC Foundation of America today announced grants totaling $303,600 to eight organizations that provide innovative technology to advance the independence and full participation in society of people with disabilities.

Several of the new grants support technology for people with cognitive disabilities. Another grant helps blind people to explore art through multi-sensory approaches, including tactile diagrams. Yet another grant introduces assistive technology to farmers and ranchers who have sustained illness and injury so that they may continue to work in their chosen profession.

“For 15 years, NEC Foundation of America has supported the work of nonprofit groups to enable individuals to enrich their lives and realize their full potential,” noted Hisashi Kaneko, president of NEC Foundation of America, in making the announcement. “We are proud to align our legacy with these exceptional organizations.”

Organizations receiving support are:

The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (ALSA)  -  $21,600
Calabasas Hills, CA

To improve the ability of ALS patients to communicate by improving the level of expertise of those who treat and support them. The project will expand information and education regarding ALS-related communication issues and augmentative/alternative communication devices to staff at ALSA affiliate organizations nationwide, including more than 40 Chapters and 26 hospital-based Centers. In addition, ALSA’s website will be enhanced to provide parallel information to patients, families, caregivers and healthcare professionals.

Art Education for the Blind  -  $50,000
New York, NY

Toward the development, evaluation and launch of the Art Beyond Sight Online Resource, a collection of educational materials and hands-on training tools necessary for making art accessible to someone who is visually impaired. Key components include AEB’s pioneering publications such as the multimedia Handbook for Museums and Educators, and the Teachers’ Resource Center with an interactive lesson plan exchange and database. Targeted audiences include arts and educational organizations.

Benetech  -  $60,000
Palo Alto, CA

To develop an open source software tool to accelerate the adoption of accessible K-12 textbooks throughout the US. Effective in 2006, K-12 textbooks for blind users are to be offered at the same time as print textbooks, per the new National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standards (NIMAS). The proposed NIMAS Validator will permit publishers and educators to assess the degree/quality of NIMAS compliance so that usability can be assured.

Breaking New Ground – Purdue University  -  $30,000
West Lafayette, IN

For national dissemination of a CD version of a unique assistive technology resource, The Toolbox: Agricultural Tools, Machinery, Equipment, and Buildings for Farmers and Ranchers with Physical Disabilities, and for developing the companion Toolbox web site. Dissemination will occur through the network of USDA Cooperative Extension Service county offices throughout the US.

CAST  -  $50,000
Wakefield, MA

Toward the development of StoryBook Builder, a digital curriculum package combining a collection of accessible digital storybooks for the K-2 emerging reader with cognitive disabilities, including mental retardation, and a digital book-building authoring tool that puts the power to create alternative accessible curriculum materials for these students in the hands of teachers, parents and others without special training, due to an intuitive interface and user guide.

Music & Arts Center for Humanity  -  $15,000
Bridgeport, CT

Toward the 2006 Summer Institute for Blind College-bound Musicians, a residential program at which musicians study Braille music code, strategies for studying music theory and performance, and the use of the computer for composition, as well as gaining experience in college independent living. A portion of the funds will be used to carry on other technology projects of the National Resource Center for Blind Musicians.
www.blindmusicstudent.org and www.musicandartscenter.org

PACER Center  -  $42,000
Minneapolis, MN

To initiate Universally Designed Accessible Information Technology in Schools, a series of three free online training programs and a DVD, with the goal of making schools more accessible and inclusive for K-12 children with disabilities. The target audience is school administrators, information technology specialists and teachers.

University of Minnesota Institute on Community Integration (ICI)  -  $35,000
Minneapolis, MN

For Self-Advocacy Online (SAO), a research and development project to bridge the “digital divide” for persons with intellectual disability (ID) and related cognitive disability (RCD). The project will test, validate and recommend standards for accessible websites for persons with ID and RCD, as well as provide a national, maximally accessible website for self-advocates with ID and RCD that exemplifies the validated standards and provides needed content on self-advocacy.
http://rtc.umn.edu and www.qualitymall.org

For more information about NEC Foundation of America, including application guidelines, please call 631.232.2212, or visit www.necfoundation.org. NEC Foundation of America was established in 1991 and endowed at $10 million by NEC Corporation and its United States subsidiaries. Income generated by the endowment is donated to nonprofit organizations in the United States in support of programs with national reach and impact in the arena of assistive technology for people with disabilities. Through its grants, NEC Foundation of America underscores its philosophy of advancing society through technology and enabling individuals to realize their full potential.

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