The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) today announced the names of four honorees who will receive the prestigious Helen Keller Achievement Awards at a special gala in New York City on June 18.

Awardees include Apple for breakthroughs in accessible technology, actor Charlie Cox for his portrayal of a blind superhero, Ward Marston a musician/recording engineer with vision loss, and VandaPharmaceuticals Inc. for pioneering treatment of a circadian rhythm disorder, Non-24 Sleep-Wake Disorder, that can affect people who are totally blind.

“We are honoring accomplished individuals and companies for their success in improving quality of life for people with vision loss either through groundbreaking innovation or inspirational achievement that changes perceptions about what it means to be visually impaired,” says AFB President and CEO Carl R. Augusto.

AFB is recognizing Apple for VoiceOver, a gesture-based screen reader that allows users to hear a description of everything happening on the display, and other features that make iPhone, iPad and other iOS devices accessible to people with vision loss. Apple received an AFB Access Award in 2009 for its trailblazing engineering of accessible products and continues its extraordinary efforts to make their products accessible for everyone.

Charlie Cox, a British actor who has appeared in major UK and US television and film productions, is being honored for introducing a new generation of audiences to the iconic (and blind) Marvel character Matt Murdock in Marvel’s Daredevil, a new original series on Netflix. 

Musician and band leader Ward Marston is being recognized for a distinguished career both as a performer and musical historian and preservationist. Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. is being recognized for scientific innovation in developing the first and only FDA‘approved treatment for people who are totally blind and living with Non-24. Non-24 is a disorder that disrupts the body’s internal clock and can lead to sleep challenges, especially for people with total blindness.