The annual Chair’s award is a prestigious honour, presented at each AGM to recognize a blind, deafblind, or low vision person who has shown remarkable achievement in any field. This year’s award goes to a person who has not only excelled in their endeavours but also contributed significantly to the community.
Gene Gibson: A Story of Dedication and Impact
Gene Gibson, this year’s recipient, embodies the spirit of the Chair’s award through his sustained commitment to improving accessibility for blind and low vision people. His website, accessibilitycentral.net, is a testament to this dedication. It offers a wealth of resources, ranging from audio descriptions and guide dogs to sports and shopping for the visually impaired. “It’s clear this person has kept adding new things to it so he’s ended up with what really is a useful resource for blind and sighted people alike,” said Clive Lansink, Chair of the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, highlighting the site’s comprehensive nature.
In addition to his work on the website, Gibson has been instrumental in promoting the NVDA screen reader in New Zealand, becoming a primary resource for those seeking assistance with the technology. “I’m giving you the award this year because of your sustained personal commitment to accessibility in today’s technological world over many years,” explained Clive.
Personal Journey and Resilience
Gene’s journey began at a young age when diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa. Despite the early onset of his condition, Gene maintained a positive outlook. “It is not until you start losing your tunnel vision, that you start noticing retinitis pigmentosa,” he reflects on his experience.
Gibson’s passion extends to his personal life as well. A resident of Stratford with his wife, Narelle, and guide dog, Orion, he enjoys computer tinkering and walks with Orion, weather permitting. Over the years, Gene has formed deep bonds with his guide dogs, referring to them as “guardian angels” and crediting them with providing freedom and companionship. “He is probably the dog that I have bonded with the most. I have never had a guide dog follow me wherever I go (around the house when off duty),” Gene says about Orion, his current guide dog.
Gene’s contributions and his personal story of resilience and dedication make him a deserving recipient of this year’s Chair’s award, an inspiration to many in the community.
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