Blind Entrepreneur to be Honored by Governor

ViewPlus® President and CEO, Dr. John Gardner, will be awarded with the prestigious annual 2003 Oregon Disabilities Commission Governors Award at a ceremony October 14 at the Oregon State Capital. Gardner, a blind physics professor turned entrepreneur, started inventing to narrow the gap between the sighted and non-sighted. What he created revolutionized education and greatly increased professional opportunities for blind people throughout the world. In the process, he built a growing technology company that employs people of all abilities. It is for this work, that he will be honored.

When an eye operation left Gardner totally blind in 1988 at the age of 48, his career as a physics professor at Oregon State University was immediately in jeopardy. No longer able to communicate effectively to students and colleagues in his highly mathematical and visually-oriented field, he set out to create technologies that would enable him to continue his career. Within a year, Gardner invented a new system to make braille math easy and, soon thereafter, a special braille embosser capable of printing tactile images of the visual objects he could no longer see.

Rather than keep his creations to himself, Gardner mortgaged his family’s home in order to make his inventions available to others who needed them and founded ViewPlus® Technologies in 1996. Since its founding, ViewPlus® has employed and empowered many people with disabilities. The company now employs 21 people and in just a few years has become a leader in the international assistive technology community.

“[He] has made it possible for individuals with vision impairments…to succeed in fields of education and employment previously not open to them,” states Disabilities Commission Executive Director, Janine Delaunay.

The award will be given October 14, 2003 at 1:00 pm in the Rotunda of the Oregon State Capitol. Governor Theodore Kulongoski will personally present the award to Dr. John Gardner. Jeff Gianola from KOIN TV will be the Master of Ceremonies. It will be followed by a reception in which Gardner will be honored.

More information on Dr. Gardner’s work and his company, ViewPlus® Technologies, is available at Other recent achievements by Dr. Gardner include the 2002 Oregon State University Distinguished Service Award and National Business Incubator Association award for 2003 Best Technology Company.

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