Baruch College and Touch Graphics
Honored as 2004 Tech Museum Award Laureates

Top Five Finalists to Share $250,000 for Applying
Technology to Improve Quality of Life Around the World

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For a project designed to expand educational and intellectual horizons for people who are blind or visually impaired, Baruch College and Touch Graphics have been jointly named 2004 Tech Museum Awards Laureates.   The Tech Museum of Innovation located in San Jose, California, today announced 25 Laureates for its prestigious awards program, which celebrates those who leverage new and existing technologies to benefit humanity.

The Baruch College Computer Center for Visually Impaired People (CCVIP) and Touch Graphics have been chosen Laureates for the Microsoft Education Award.   They are being honored for developing the Talking Tactile Tablet (TTT), a computer peripheral device that makes graphical interactive computer applications accessible for people with visual impairments.

We are pleased and honored to be named a Tech Museum Laureate, Karen Gourgey, Director of the Computer Center for Visually Impaired People said. We believe that the TTT is a genuine breakthrough in audio-tactile technology for those people whose vision problems prevent them from seeing a video monitor or manipulating a mouse. While touch and talk technologies have been in existence since the late 80's, the Tablet is a self-teaching, simple to use system that requires virtually no prior computer knowledge on the part of the user.   It is portable, inexpensive and offers limitless educational possibilities.   It facilitates study in geography, math and other disciplines requiring access to pictures and diagrams.   It brings the community of visually impaired people that much closer to full participation in school and the work place.

The TTT is an inexpensive patent-pending device that includes an authoring tool, which permits teachers to develop their own applications from a basic template.   Unlike earlier tactile graphic materials, the TTT does not require individuals to read Braille.  It depends instead on tactile images associated with audio output and can be easily adapted for speakers of any language.

On November 10, 2004, at a black-tie awards gala, Silicon Valley leaders and delegates from the United Nations will join together to honor all 25 Laureates.   One Laureate from each of five categories will be awarded a $50,000 cash honorarium.

This year an esteemed panel of judges considered more than 320 applications from 80 countries. This year's 25 Tech Awards Laureates came from Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, India, Guatemala, Nepal, Nigeria, Singapore, the United States and Uruguay.

Baruch College's Computer Center for Visually Impaired People has trained blind and visually impaired persons in the use of adaptive computer technologies for 25 years.   Since 1997, CCVIP has been collaborating with Touch Graphics, Inc., a technology firm that specializes in creating new computer materials for the blind and visually impaired community.   A team of developers including a sighted inventor and a blind educator created the Talking Tactile Tablet.   Teachers of visually impaired students, both in the U.S. and Great Britain, are currently aiding in further developing and refining TTT applications.

The Tech Awards represent a collaborative effort among educational institutions and business. Silicon Valley leaders supporting The Tech Awards include presenting sponsor Applied Materials, Inc. and Santa Clara University's Center for Science, Technology, and Society. Category sponsors include Intel, Accenture, Microsoft, and Agilent.

For more information on the awards and laureates, visit http://www.techawards.org .