NEW YORK – Citing his "outstanding achievements in the fields of blindness and low vision," The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) presented Arlington Heights resident James Kesteloot with the prestigious Migel Medal during a special ceremony held in New York City recently.
He is past president and a current board member of The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired.
The Migel Medal, which represents the highest honor in the blindness field, was given to Mr. Kesteloot by Carl R. Augusto, AFB president and CEO. Also receiving the award was Oral Miller, a founding member of the American Blind Lawyers Association. The honors were bestowed during the 2014 AFB Leadership Conference.
"It is an honor to present these medals to Jim and Oral," said Mr. Augusto. "They have dedicated their lives to ensuring people with vision loss have equal access and opportunities, and their work has made a huge difference in the lives of many."
Mr. Kesteloot, who spent more than 40 years at The Lighthouse in various capacities, served as president and executive director from 1996 until his retirement in 2009.
Nationally respected for his efforts to secure employment for people with visual impairments, he developed the Placement Program at The Lighthouse, which became one of the largest and most successful job readiness and placement programs in the nation. Over the years, Mr. Kesteloot had a hand in starting and improving other programs at the agency, most notably access technology and low vision services, including the Illinois Instructional Material Center, which supplies Braille and large print books and technology to blind students in Illinois schools.
Mr. Kesteloot who was previously named to leadership posts by Illinois Governors Thompson and Edgar as well as Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, was appointed by President Obama in 2010 to serve as a member on the Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled (now known as the United States AbilityOne Commission). The Commission works as an independent federal agency that administers the AbilityOne Program, which provides employment opportunities for people with vision loss and other disabilities.
"I am deeply honored to have been chosen for this incredible award and extend my deepest appreciation to Carl Augusto and the AFB for their support," said Mr. Kesteloot. "I am very pleased to accept it on behalf of so many people who are blind or visually impaired who never let their disability prevent them from achieving their dreams!"
The Migel Medal was established in 1937 by the late M.C. Migel, AFB's first chairman, to honor professionals and volunteers whose dedication and achievements improve the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired.
About The Chicago Lighthouse
The Chicago Lighthouse, whose credo is "Because there is still hope," was founded in 1906, and is one of the nation's most comprehensive social service agencies. Housed under its roof are the oldest and most prominent vision care and rehabilitation program in the U.S.; a nationally acclaimed school for children with multi-disabilities; a world class employment services program employing hundreds of people; one of the few remaining clock manufacturing facilities in America; a VA program serving veterans in all 50 states; and a radio station.
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. AFB's priorities include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. Headquartered in New York, AFB is proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the more than 40 years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB.