The American Council of the Blind (ACB) presented the Robert S. Bray Award to Frank Kurt Cylke, director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) on July 4, during the ACB National Convention in Minneapolis.
Cylke, who has served as director of NLS since 1973, received the award for his "visionary and steadfast commitment to a digital talking-book program that will serve blind Americans throughout the 21st century." Cylke has led NLS in researching and developing the Digital Talking-Book System—scheduled to launch in 2008—since 1990. In the 1970s, Cylke guided NLS through the transition from phonographs and discs to a cassette-based system.
Cylke has received numerous honors, including the American Library Association Francis Joseph Campbell and Joseph W. Lippincott awards. In 2005, Cylke received the Newell Perry Award, the highest award of the National Federation of the Blind. He was appointed a Virginia Cultural Laureate by Gov. Douglas Wilder in 1992 and given the Dayton M. Forman Memorial Award by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind in 1996.
Founded in 1961, ACB is a national membership organization of more than 26,000 blind people. The organization works to improve the quality of life for blind persons by elevating their economic, social and cultural levels and by improving opportunities for education and rehabilitation.
ACB established the Robert S. Bray Award in 1975 to honor the memory of the late chief of the Division for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, the precursor to NLS. Bray headed the organization from 1957 to 1972, overseeing the program through its transition from a network of 28 cooperating libraries to more than 100 at his retirement.
The award is presented annually to a person who has contributed to improving library technology or communication devices to expand access for blind people.