Last evening, I attended the 20th Anniversary Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation gala in New York City, as one of several guests invited by IBM's Senior Vice President and Director of Research Dr. John E. Kelly III. John was there to accept the prestigious Visionary Leadership Award on IBM’s behalf. The award was a tribute to all IBMers around the world, who help create new innovations and help improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.
Getting to sit next to John, with my service dog and companion Veronique, made me privy to the positive comments his acceptance speech received, but everyone heard the thunderous applause when he talked about IBM's unrelenting support and commitment to accessibility, and IBMers with disabilities, dating back to 1914 – when IBM hired its first employee with a disability.
I wanted to share this with all of you, my extended IBM family around the world, because it underscores one of our company's most powerful characteristics and advantages: we understand what can be made possible when like-minded people, teams, or organizations leverage their will and vision to achieve a common goal.
The award reminded me of IBM’s 90 years of leadership in research and development that help all people reach their full potential in work and life.
We introduced the first Braille typewriter in 1946; today we’re modeling the behavior of the human brain’s neural tissue to learn how our minds function on a basic level. How incredible is that?
For me – as someone who has been involved in finding a cure for spinal cord injuries since I broke my neck in an accident in 1981 – the event was a doubly emotional experience because IBM was a corporate sponsor of the event.
This is the kind of leadership that is going to build a Smarter Planet. Today, at least 750 million people on our planet (more than twice the population of the US) have some type of mobility or sensory disability. IBM understands that we can't achieve a smarter planet unless we have an inclusive one.
Through partnerships with industry, academia and government, IBM will continue to lead and succeed in offering hope to people with disabilities.
I'm Jim Sinocchi, and I'm proud to be an IBMer.
vice president, IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and President; director, IBM Human Ability and Accessibility Center
Labels: accessibility, christopher and dana reeve foundation, diversity, ibm