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Catalyst Award Recipients

Previous award recipients of the Harry Murphy Catalyst Award include:

Photograph of Klaus Miesenberger.Klaus Miesenberger (2011) is a professor, researcher, mentor, organizer, and a catalyst. He is widely published, has organized international conferences (the latest ICCHP and AAATE), and serves on committees both locally and internationally. But he is not being recognized for these efforts.

Rather he is being recognized for what he does beyond his job description and professional duties. Klaus is a tireless doer, working at all hours to advance the efforts of other organizations and individuals with disabilities. He was the instigator and co-founder of the International Computer Camps for Blind and Partially Sighted Students (ICC) to support the transition of high school students who are blind to universities and/or the labor market. He is co-founder and member of the Association "blickpunkt," a cooperation of all stakeholders supporting blind and partially sighted people in the region of Upper Austria. He is a founding member of the Association Uniability, the association of counsellors for students with disabilities at Austrian universities. He initiated and leads the group "ECDL for people with disabilities" for the Austrian ECDL Foundation at the Austrian Computer Society, and has helped to institute many other such organizations and programs. Klaus has been a mentor to numerous individuals with disabilities as well, helping them to understand and achieve their potential.

Klaus Miesenberger, Ph.D., holds degrees in computer science and economics, and is a professor of Human-Computer Interaction for People with Disabilities at the University of Linz, Austria. His research and teaching is related to practical IT supported integration of people with disabilities and IT for people with disabilities.

Professor Miesenberger is a classic catalyst, helping others to achieve - both directly and through the many organizations, programs, and new leaders he has helped create. These individuals, programs, and leaders will continue to help and achieve far beyond his efforts and tenure.

Photograph of Frank HeckerFrank Hecker (2009) was chosen for the 2009 award because of the pivotal role he has played in enabling people from across industry, academia, and the public sector to focus on open source accessibility. He has brought people together and given young people support and opportunities to both learn and contribute to accessibility. Although most people outside of a close circle may not know his name, many will benefit from the technologies impacted by his efforts, including Web 2.0 accessibility via WAI-ARIA, Dojo and JQuery JavaScript toolkits, testing tools for browser support of accessibility, next-generation captioning and descriptions for upcoming HTML video/audio standards, the Accerciser testing tool, Braille support in Orca, NVDA, cross-platform DAISY reader, and internationalization of key software for small language communities.

Frank has had industry-wide impact by funding and supporting open source projects to advance accessibility and drive down future costs to people with disabilities. His efforts have both energized the field and grown the number of people with accessibility skills, from students to private corporate developers.  Read about Frank Hecker's vision in this area.

Photograph of Sheryl Burgstahler.Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler (2006) founded and directs DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology) at the University of Washington. Although she has many accomplishments in her own right, Dr. Burgstahler has enabled many others -- both youth with disabilities and those in the field who have modeled their programs after DO-IT.

Under Dr. Burgstahler's skillful direction DO-IT has increased the successful participation of people with disabilities in education and careers, especially in the fields where they have been underrepresented, including science, engineering, mathematics, and technology. The program has gained an international reputation and has made a significant impact in the quality of life for countless students with disabilities. Over 260 youth with disabilities have been prepared for careers in math, science and engineering through DO-IT Scholars, a technology-rich college prep program. Dr. Burgstahler has also set up an electronic mentoring community that reaches nationwide. This email-based community links young people with mentors from a wide range of backgrounds, including scientists, educators, engineers, researchers, surgeons, artists, and architects, most of whom have disabilities themselves.

Photograph of George KerscherGeorge Kerscher (2004) began working on document access in 1987 and has been a tireless advocate and leader ever since. He coined the term "print disabled" to describe people who cannot effectively read print because of a visual, physical, perceptual, developmental, cognitive, or learning disability, and believes that in the Information Age access to information is a fundamental human right. He also believes that properly design information systems can make all information accessible to all people, and has worked consistently and effectively to push evolving technologies in that direction.

Although his personal accomplishments stand on their own, he is receiving the award for the quiet work he has done advancing the efforts of others in this area. Never one to take credit himself, he has helped foster and advance the work of many and brings out the best in teams that he is associated with. He has also spearheaded the creation of, and then quietly bore a large share of the support for, key groups that we have all come to rely on in this area.

George Kerscher is Senior Officer of Accessible Information at Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D) in the USA, Secretary General for the DAISY Consortium, member of the Board of Directors for the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) and Co-chair of the Steering Council of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).

Photograph of Judy BrewerJudy Brewer (2002) directs the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). She coordinates work on W3C technologies' support of accessibility for people with disabilities; accessibility guidelines for Web content and applications; tools for evaluation and repair of Web sites; education on Web accessibility solutions; and monitoring of research impacting the future accessibility of the Web.

WAI's guidelines and educational resources -- developed under W3C's consensus process with the participation of industry, people with disabilities, accessibility researchers, and government representatives -- have been adopted by a number of governments and other organizations around the world.

Prior to joining W3C, Ms. Brewer directed a project promoting access to assistive technology for people with disabilities. She worked on initiatives to increase access to mainstream technology for people with disabilities and improve dialog between industry and disability communities. Her background includes management, technical writing, education, applied linguistics and disability advocacy.

Photograph of Harry Murphy.The namesake and inspiration for this award is Dr. Harry J. Murphy, the founder and past Director of the Center on Disabilities at California State University, Northridge (CSUN).

Among numerous other accomplishments, Dr. Murphy was the catalyst for CSUN's "Technology and Persons with Disabilities" conference, the longest-running and largest annual university-sponsored conference on technology and persons with disabilities. He is well known as an international spokesman for people with disabilities, and has received recognition in the United States from the National Council on Disability for his "outstanding leadership and services in the use of technology for people with disabilities."

The award is not given for Harry's role as the originator of CSUN however, but rather for his untiring efforts throughout the year to bring together and connect people from different countries. In particular his efforts to link together new people from different countries and give them entrée and introduction to people and groups they would not otherwise have had. For his continuing efforts to enable others and help connect us all, we honor Dr. Murphy with this award. (2000)

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