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NYSAER Awards - What Are They?

(Originally Prepared by Ann Range, President, 1992-1994
Re-written by MaryAnn Oyer, President, 2004-2006
with assistance from Ann and Conrad Range)



George E. Keane was a lawyer who was blind and employed by IHB which today is Helen Keller Services for the Blind. Mr. Keane, Esq. was a very bright and capable man who was interested in and knowledgeable about legislation. He worked just about full time in Albany and Washington learning about proposed legislation so he could report back to AAWB members. He also helped draft legislation to benefit persons who were/are blind. He would come to the Board of Directors with information and suggestions. This information was relayed to the membership so everyone was aware of what was or could be happening. Plenary sessions were a time when opinions were given and George could explain, take under advisement and incorporate members’ suggestions when feasible.

When George retired, major agencies for the blind pooled their money to provide a stipend, a legal aide and expenses. The major agencies did not control the organization and the directors were the only possible board members. Ann Range, as a children's consultant and Carolyn Gebhardt who was and Orientation and Mobility Instructor were also board members. There were other line staff people on the board and we outnumbered the agency executives. However, line staff could not support legislative costs.

There was a 20 year Recognition Award which was to be given to someone who was still active in the field after 20 years. When AAWB merged with AEVH that award was named after George Keane to honor the work he had done for persons who were blind and to recognize those in the field who continued to work for long periods of time. Originally, it was hoped to find recipients whose work had benefited NYS and helped influence the national scene.




Nat Seaman was another lawyer who was blind and worked for the Veteran's Administration. He replaced George Keane as legal representative of AAWB. All of these activities took place with knowledge and some cooperation from CBVH (Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped) as they could not really get involved in legislation but wanted persons who were/are blind to be well served. Originally the Nat Seaman award was given to people helping and involved in legislation. It was not meant to be awarded every year unless deserved. After the merger of AAWB and AEVH, the Nat Seaman Award changed. The award does not have to be given to someone who works in the field of blindness but someone who has contributed to or influenced practices and performance in furthering the cause of disabled and/or visually impaired persons.



Ann Range graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education and Speech Therapy. While working in various schools and screening pupils for special education services, Ann took Graduate level courses to receive permanent certification in Special Education.

Ann started adopting and fostering children. One adopted daughter is blind and this encouraged Ann to seek out information about education and programs for blind children.

Ann wore many hats over the years: mother, educator, wife, president, board member. She was on a committee with Dr. Lyle Lehman to get a program started at SUNY Geneseo for Teachers of the Visually Impaired. Ann was active in a Parent’s group in Syracuse, where she met Ronni Gilligan. She was also appointed by Governor Nelson Rockefeller to be on the Board of Visitors at the NYS School for the Blind in Batavia. After a recommendation from Kevin Meegan, Children’s Consultant at CBVH in Buffalo, Ann became the Children’s Consultant in Rochester. During this time, Ann was instrumental in starting a Parents’ group in Rochester and Elmira. In 1981, Ann was offered a job to design and start a program for children who are blind at Blind Work Association in Binghamton. She organized the outreach programs, offered direct teaching and became AER certified in RT. Ann also coordinated summer programs in conjunction with CBVH and BWA, continuing to service children in 7 counties. In 1985, Ann received the Meritorious Achievement Award.

Ann was on the Board of Directors for AAWB. Ann also served on the Board of Directors for NYSAER for a few terms, then, without ever having been Vice President, Ann was asked to be President. Ann was instrumental in starting mini grants (something she brought back from the International Conference in New Mexico), quarterly Board meetings, following the Constitution, By-Laws and Policy Manual, as well as, organizing a plenary session at each conference.

Originally, Ann was to have a scholarship named after her, but President Julie Misegades initiated the Children’s Award in Ann’s name in 1998.




This award is presented annually to a recipient who has worked with persons who are visually impaired for at least 3 years. This nominee must be employed at least half time working with persons in New York State who are visually impaired.  The nominee must be someone who has made an outstanding contribution in the work with persons in New York State who are visually impaired. This contribution may have been made at any level of service.  Membership in NYSAER is not required.


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