Verizon Foundation Grant Brings Cutting-Edge Technology to The Maryland School for the Blind

BALTIMORE - Surrounded by students at The Maryland School for the Blind, state Sen. Katherine A. Klausmeier (D-8th District) today read from Dr. Seuss' classic holiday story, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."  As she read, each child followed along with his or her own Braille/text version of the book.

The school created these individual Braille/text books on new equipment purchased with the help of a $20,241 grant from the Verizon Foundation - the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications.

One item - the SpotDot(tm) printer - takes a traditional book and prints a new version that includes both the printed word and Braille so a blind student and a parent or teacher can follow along or read together.

"This grant enables us to obtain cutting-edge equipment that will give our students quick access to textbooks and other educational materials," said Carl Lancaster, interim president and CEO of The Maryland School for the Blind.  "It also will enable parents and teachers to work closely together on anything from reading to geometry."

The grant was given as part of the Verizon Foundation's annual Season's Readings campaign, in which Verizon employees collect and donate books for schools, libraries and nonprofit organizations.

Since the program's launch in 2001, Verizon employees and the Verizon Foundation have donated more than 2 million books to 3,500 organizations across the country.

William R. Roberts, president of Verizon Maryland and Verizon Washington, D.C., said, "Literacy is the building block for every child to succeed in school and gain the necessary skills to excel in the 21st century.  Verizon and The Maryland School for the Blind have enjoyed a long-standing relationship, and we're delighted to see that our support is bringing the many benefits of advanced technology to the school's students, parents and faculty."

Sen. Klausmeier, who is a member of The Maryland School for the Blind's board of directors, said, "By making it possible for the students to read any written materials, this technology will no doubt open doors that once were closed.  I am so pleased that the Verizon Foundation has chosen to help the school with its mission of serving those who are vision impaired."

Items the school purchased with the grant include:

  • A computer with specific assistive technologies for the blind and hearing impaired.

  • Two printers - one SpotDot and one Pro Gen II.  (The Pro Gen II will allow the school to handle large volume runs of Braille and tactile graphics, printing all sizes and types of paper/media including Braille labels; this printer also has voice buttons and menus.)

  • Voice recognition software that allows the user to launch programs, edit and format text files, and manage a computer desktop by voice.

  • Computer screen reader and magnification software.

  • Library software including numerous National Geographic CD-ROM sets.

Verizon began its affiliation with The Maryland School for the Blind through the work of Disabilities Issues Awareness Leaders (DIAL), a Verizon employee resource group.  DIAL promotes personal and professional development for Verizon employees with common abilities and interests, and supports the company on accessibility initiatives.

Each year DIAL rallies employees to donate money to the National Braille Press to purchase books for libraries at The Maryland School for the Blind and other facilities such as the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Mass.

About the Verizon Foundation:
The Verizon Foundation is committed to improving literacy and K-12 education through its signature program Thinkfinity.org; fostering awareness and prevention of domestic violence; and promoting the use of technology in healthcare delivery.  In 2006, the foundation awarded more than $69 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad.  The foundation also matched charitable donations from Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $29 million in combined contributions.  Under the foundation's Verizon Volunteer initiative, one of the nation's largest employee-volunteer programs, company employees and retirees also have contributed nearly 3 million hours of community service since Verizon's inception in 2000.  For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation.

About The Maryland School for the Blind:
Located in the northeast corner of Baltimore, The Maryland School for the Blind (MSB) is a private, nonprofit school dedicated to educating children and youth from infancy to age 21 who are blind, visually impaired, and multiply disabled. Each year, the school serves more than 800 students throughout the state.  In addition to the traditional classroom education, MSB offers comprehensive services including; residential, Braille and low-vision instruction, travel training, transition, health and therapy services, career education and outreach.  For more information, visit www.mdschblind.org.

About Verizon Communications:
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving 63.7 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon has a diverse workforce of nearly 238,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $88 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.