Educator receives national honor

Betsy McGinnity lauded for outstanding work in the field of multiple disabilities and deafblindness.

A woman smiles as she holds up a wooden plaque

Betsy McGinnity has been honored by the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) with the 2014 Virginia Sowell Award for advancement of knowledge and understanding of deafblindness and multiple disabilities. The annual award was presented to McGinnity last month by AER’s Multiple Disabilities and Deafblind Division for her long career of exceptional leadership in education.

Having joined the staff at Perkins School for the Blind in 1980, McGinnity has focused on providing information and training to teachers, professionals and families with children who are visually impaired with additional disabilities for more than 25 years. Early development of the National Center on Deaf-Blindness (DB-LINK) information services owes much to her skill and expertise.

McGinnity directs the Training & Educational Resources Program (TERP) at Perkins which encompasses Perkins Training Center, the Scout online resources clearinghouse, and the Hayes Research Library with its wealth of archival and historical materials, among other valued and respected resources.

The centerpiece of TERP is the content-rich Perkins eLearning site. Through Perkins eLearning, experts from Perkins, as well as from locations in the U. S. and beyond, come together to share their expertise with thousands of educators and families whose children have multiple disabilities and deafblindness.

With the passing of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act in 2010, McGinnity took a national leadership role in the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, which provides communications solutions free of charge to Americans who are living with combined vision and hearing loss. The iCanConnect website links eligible recipients to the federally funded program.

“The Virginia Sowell Award is a tremendous honor,” says McGinnity. “It reflects in no small part the incredible work that my team does every day.”

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