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The Council honored two long-time educators for their contributions to the blind and visually impaired community during the Annual Awards Luncheon on Saturday, November 14 in Madison.

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction State Superintendent Tony Evers was presented the Outstanding Public Service Award, while UW-Madison Professor Emeritus from the School of Business and former Marketing Department Chair Neil Ford received the Louis Seidita Distinguished Service Award.

Evers and Ford were selected as this year’s honorees by the Council Board of Directors’ Awards Committee. Board Treasurer and Awards Committee member Kathy Brockman said the annual awards recognize those who have advocated for the blind and visually impaired through community outreach and legislative efforts.

As state superintendent, Evers has emphasized the importance of providing accessibility to students with disabilities throughout Wisconsin. Evers’ commitment to both national and state-wide disability services made him an ideal choice for the Outstanding Public Service Award.

“He understands special education and the needs of students who have disabilities and has worked to provide additional services around the state,” Brockman said.

Tony Evers and Louis Seidita

“It means a great deal to me to receive this award,” said Evers. “Helping all students to succeed in Wisconsin, regardless of their needs and challenges, is the continued focus of my work as state superintendent.”

Ford, an active member in the blind and visually impaired community for several years, was excited to receive the Louis Seidita Distinguished Service Award. This award was named after the late Seidita, a blind businessman that advocated for social service organizations that served the blind and visually impaired.

According to Brockman, Ford has done many presentations for low vision groups throughout Wisconsin. In Columbia County, Ford developed a support group that has helped people cope with vision loss. He has represented the Council on several government task forces and committees. Ford also spent seven years on the Council’s board of directors, legislative committee, awards committee and products committee.

“I am incredibly pleased to receive this award,” Ford said. “Having been on the awards committee off and on for a number of years, I am familiar with the type of people that are nominated and it’s a great honor to now be a part of that group.”

Council Executive Director Loretta Himmelsbach said it was an honor to present two educators with this year’s awards.

“Both of them have inspired many people,” Himmelsbach said. “Their leadership and influence have touched so many lives through education and community. We are fortunate to call them friends of the Council.”