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August 25, 2010

WGBH's Media Access Group Wins Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts LEAD Award

Boston, MA. WGBH's Media Access Group has been awarded the 2010 LEAD Award for Excellence in Accessibility Leadership from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Founded in 1972, the Media Access Group has pioneered solutions to make all kinds of media-- on television, in movie theaters, on the Web and in museums and theme parks-- accessible to the widest possible audience. Captioning and audio description (for television viewers who are blind or have low vision) were both developed at WGBH. In addition to working with public and commercial networks, movie studios and online media distributors, the Media Access Group collaborates with a wide range of museums and cultural institutions to make their exhibits and websites accessible to people with sensory disabilities.

This LEAD Award for Excellence in Accessibility Leadership is bestowed upon an individual or organization that addresses the needs of the disability community as a whole over a significant period of time, and recognizes the emergence of the organization as a role model and leader within the cultural arts community. The award will be presented during the LEAD conference this week in San Diego. Larry Goldberg, director of Media Access for WGBH, will accept the award, and will also present workshops on solutions and best practices for making museums and other cultural sites engaging and enjoyable to all visitors, through methods both low-tech and cutting-edge.

WGBH has worked with the Museum of Science Boston, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian, the Hall at Patriot Place, the Association of Science and Technology Centers, Disney Parks and Resorts and national park visitor centers. WGBH is currently working closely with the Whitney Museum to create inclusive environments--both in person and online--for visitors. Julia Sobel of the Whitney's Education Department shares the museum's philosophy of incorporating technology to bridge any divide between art and experience for visitors with disabilities:

"The Whitney's Education Department believes that the complexity of contemporary art necessitates varied interpretive approaches and customized programs in order to make art and artists accessible to audiences with different needs, interests, and experiences. With the intrepid spirit of the artist in mind, we test out new ideas and approaches, followed by a thorough practice of inquiry and reflection. The Whitney actively seeks ways to make exhibitions more accessible to individuals with disabilities. To that end, the Whitney collaborated with WGBH to explore the ways in which handheld devices might make art work at the Whitney more accessible to our hard of hearing, deaf, blind and visually impaired visitors. WGBH's on-site pilot test of commercially available devices was hugely successful in demonstrating the ways in which the Whitney can and will work to better serve our audiences. Additionally, WGBH continues to partner with the Whitney to assist in better serving our audiences through website accessibility consultation, website captioning and transcript services. The Whitney looks forward to a continued successful partnership with WGBH."

The Media Access Group at WGBH, which includes a Services division and a research and development division--the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media--has pioneered and delivered captioned and described media for nearly four decades to people in their homes, classrooms, at work and in the community. And the Media Access Group continues to develop new solutions to access challenges as technology, and the way we all consume media, evolve. Members of the group's collective staff represent the leading experts in their fields and their success is exemplified by a history of accomplishments and continuous growth, the integration of innovative products and services into society at large, and the enthusiastic support of the audiences served, including 35 million people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or have low vision. More information about the Media Access Group at WGBH can be found at:

August 25, 2010

Contact: Mary Watkins
617 300-3700

Caption Services Description Services NCAM