Advisory Board

Marc Maurer, J.D., Hon L.L.D., Hon Litt.D., Hon L.H.D.

The article The Talking Camera – new handheld electronic reader will change the lives of millions said

There are 174 million visually impaired people in the world, accounting for approximately 2.6 percent of the population, with around 0.6% being completely blind. We can hardly imagine how overjoyed these people will be to hear of a groundbreaking new device that has been announced by the United States National Federation of the Blind (NFB) – the Kurzweil-NFB Reader. The handheld machine was developed by NFB and renowned inventor Ray Kurzweil, and enables users to take pictures of and read most printed materials…
“The world of the printed word is about to be opened to the blind in a way it has never been before”, said NFB President Marc Maurer. “The NFB promotes a positive attitude towards blindness”, said Maurer, “and this Reader will make blind and visually impaired people dramatically more independent.”

Marc Maurer, J.D., Hon L.L.D., Hon Litt.D., Hon L.H.D. is President of the National Federation of the Blind. Born in 1951, he was the second in a family of six children. His blindness was caused by overexposure to oxygen after his premature birth, but he and his parents were determined that this should not prevent him from living a full and normal life.
Marc graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1974. As an undergraduate he took an active part in campus life, including election to the Honor Society. Then he enrolled at the University of Indiana School of Law, where he received his Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1977.
During law school he worked summers for the office of the secretary of state of Indiana. After graduation he moved to Toledo, Ohio, to accept a position as the director of the Senior Legal Assistance Project operated by ABLE (Advocates for Basic Legal Equality).
In 1978 Marc moved to Washington, D.C., to become an attorney with the Rates and Routes Division in the office of the general counsel of the Civil Aeronautics Board. Initially he worked on rates cases but soon advanced to dealing with international matters and then to doing research and writing opinions on constitutional issues and board action. He wrote opinions for the chairman and made appearances before the full board to discuss those opinions.
In 1981 he went into private practice in Baltimore, Maryland, where he specialized in civil litigation and property matters. But increasingly he concentrated on representing blind individuals and groups in the courts. He has now become one of the most experienced and knowledgeable attorneys in the country regarding the laws, precedents, and administrative rulings concerning civil rights and discrimination against the blind. He is a member of the Bar in Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, and Maryland and a member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Marc was honored with the Maryland Black Caucus’s Leadership Award in 1985, the United States Presidential Medal for Leadership in 1990, the 1990 Heritage Award from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and the Baltimore Business Journal’s 1999 Innovation Award for Excellence in Workplace Technology. Recent honors include the 2002 VME Robert Dole Award and the Daily Record’s 2002 Innovator of the Year award. He joined President George W. Bush in the Oval Office in July of 2001 to celebrate the success of the NFB Everest Expedition and once again when President Bush signed into law the Help America Vote Act of 2002. He received honorary degrees from California’s Menlo College in 1998 and the University of Louisville in 1999. In 1987 he delivered an address at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and in 2000 he was invited to deliver addresses on civil rights at Oxford University and Birmingham University in the United Kingdom. He is now editor of the NFB’s Kernel Book series of optimistic paperbacks written by blind people about blindness.
As president of the National Federation of the Blind, Marc is leading the organization boldly into a new test of its resolve, beginning with the visionary expansion of the National Center for the Blind — the National Federation of the Blind Research and Training Institute. The facility, to be located on the grounds of the National Center, will add 170,000 square feet to the NFB’s headquarters complex. The Institute, which will be the first of its kind, conceived and built by the blind for the blind, will develop innovative education, technologies, products, and services that support independence for the world’s blind.