The Touch of Genius Prize was established to recognize an individual or group of individuals who contribute to innovation in the field of tactile literacy for blind people. The Prize can be granted for a new educational method; a new tactile literacy product; or a new technological advance. The $20,000 prize is provided through support from The Gibney Family Foundation and National Braille Press.
Braille has been, and remains, the single most significant invention that has led to the literacy of blind people. This prize is focused on literacy through the sense of touch. Tactile literacy implies that individuals who are blind will have greater access to information and learning.
We hope that this Prize fosters new thoughts, new creations, and thinking outside the box that will improve the lives of blind persons. The discussion of technology, graphics, and teaching is merely meant to be illustrative. Individuals who have developed products and ideas that are different from these categories are also strongly encouraged to apply.
Innovation is the central point for the Touch of Genius Prize. For a product to be innovative, it has to be something that is substantially new and/or has a new application. It must be creative, inventive, original and/or pioneering. Viability is also an important aspect when we evaluate applications. Viability refers to the concept that a product is able to work and is worth building. However, applicants whose products and methods are still under development are also good candidates. A product or method that has already demonstrated the likelihood to increase tactile literacy is an excellent candidate for this prize.
Technological innovations are one of the fastest growing segments of our society, and are good candidates for the Prize. The important thing to remember is that technology will be given consideration when it is based in a tactile solution.
Tactile graphics, maps, charts, and other symbolic forms of literacy are good candidates for the Prize. In order for a symbolic form of tactile literacy to be a strong candidate for the Prize, it must be usable for the target population and meet the standards of innovation, viability, and marketability.
Products are not the only candidates for the Prize. While the Braille code has existed for more than a century, current statistics demonstrated that as few as 10% of blind children today read Braille. It would be wonderful to discover a new teaching technique, method, or approach that substantially increases the rate, competence, and literacy of individuals reading the Braille code. Teachers who are passionate and dedicated Braille advocates are commended. However, simply being a good teacher does not rise to the level for which this Prize is intended.
Before the invention of Braille, no one could conceive of anything that would allow a blind person to access the print world. We are looking for that innovation that has not been thought of yet, that innovates the way we think about tactile literacy, and that has the potential to increase the world of knowledge to the blind through sense of touch.
Completed applications must be received by November 9, 2012 in both print and electronic form. Incomplete applications with not be considered by the adjudication committee.