Remarks at The Celebration, A Gala to Celebrate the Groundbreaking of the National Research and Training Institute for the Blind
October 22, 2001 by Ray Kurzweil
Ray Kurzweil’s remarks given at the groundbreaking of the National Research and Training Institute for the Blind
Speech delivered October 19, 2001. Posted on KurzweilAI.net October 22, 2001.
So, Dr. Maurer, the year 2006 for a handheld reading machine?
For those of you who were not at the groundbreaking ceremony
this morning, that was Dr. Maurer’s prediction.
That actually sounds about right.
I think you have a career ahead as a futurist.
But let’s see if we can do better.
With the help of the National Research and Training Institute for
why don’t we shoot for 2005?
I said 2004 this morning, but I’ve thought better of it since.
Let me share with you my perspective on today’s historic ceremony.
Dr. Kenneth Jernigan had a dream.
Actually he had many dreams.
Growing up on a farm 50 miles from Nashville, Tennessee
in the 1920s and ’30s,
and aware of the ancient prejudices that limited the opportunities
for blind persons,
a young Kenneth Jernigan dreamed of getting an education,
and of growing up to make a contribution to society,
of making a difference.
Later, Kenneth Jernigan had a dream
of creating the world’s most advanced and enlightened
Commission for the Blind,
where blind persons could learn Braille
and modern mobility skills,
a Commission that would make a difference.
Kenneth Jernigan had a dream
of taking a dilapidated building in Baltimore,
and creating an inspired National Center for the Blind,
where blind people from around the country
could come together to learn the skills needed
to compete on terms of equality,
a national center that would make a difference.
Dr. Kenneth Jernigan had a dream
that the National Federation of the Blind,
the organization he had done so much to advance,
would find a worthy leader to succeed him,
someone with the leadership skills, common sense, and eloquence
to carry on the burden of leadership,
when he was no longer able to do so,
a leader who,
would make a difference.
And finally, Dr. Jernigan had a dream
of building a National Research and Training Institute for the
an institute that could develop and guide the development
of pocket sized reading machines,
of on-demand Braille production technology,
of GPS and pattern recognition-based navigation systems,
of automobiles that blind persons could drive themselves,
and of other adaptive technologies that we can hardly imagine
a National Research and Training Institute for the Blind
that will make a difference.
Dr. Kenneth Jernigan was one of those fortunate people
to dream fantastic dreams,
and to see his dreams come true.
And we are equally fortunate
to have had the opportunity to share in these dreams,
and in their realization.
Dr. Jernigan was not able to see his latest dream,
the promised land
of the National Research and Training Institute for the Blind
come to life,
but he died with the satisfaction and absolute confidence
that his last dream,
like all those others,
was certain to come to fruition.
He had that profound confidence
because he knew the limitless resolve
of the National Federation of the Blind.
Most of all, Dr. Jernigan was a teacher,
and his most important and everlasting lesson
was exactly this,
that with unbounded resolve and confidence,