NEW YORK (October 16, 2016)—The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) today announced the 2017 winners of the Migel Medals, the highest honor in the blindness field. The 2017 recipients are Carl R. Augusto and Rebecca (Becky) Coakley.

“It is an honor to recognize my good friend and mentor, Carl Augusto, and the tireless and incomparable Rebecca Coakley with the 2017 Migel Medal,” noted Kirk Adams, AFB president and CEO. “They have made improving the lives of people with vision loss their life’s work, and we are so grateful for their efforts."

The AFB Migel Medal was established in 1937 by the late M.C. Migel, AFB's first chairman, to honor professionals and volunteers whose dedication and achievements improve the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired.

The Migel Medals will be presented to recipients during AFB’s Leadership Conference at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va., March 4, 2017.

About the Awardees

Carl Augusto recently retired after 25 years of service as AFB’s president and CEO. Augusto, a longtime champion of people with disabilities and a preeminent leader in the field of blindness, forged numerous strategic partnerships and alliances within the vision loss community and beyond to address critical issues and expand opportunities for people with vision loss. This includes broadening AFB's scope to influence corporate America to make its products and services accessible.

Augusto led AFB's move into the digital era and significantly bolstered its technology program and created and expanded the organization's award-winning web programs, increasing access to AFB's information and services. He oversaw the establishment and growth of AFB Tech, the Technology and Employment Center in Huntington, WVa., and the AFB Center on Vision Loss in Dallas.

Augusto was a member and secretary of the Board of Directors of the National Industries for the Blind, and president of the North American-Caribbean Region of the World Blind Union.

He holds a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from New York University, a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Connecticut, and was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters from Saint Peter’s College in New Jersey.

Rebecca Coakley is the director of outreach at West Virginia University Eye Institute and director of the Children's Vision Rehabilitation Program (CVRP), which has provided a template for low vision services across the country. She has also established a low vision program at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to serve children with low vision in Ohio, as well as a Summer Institute to teach independent living skills to young children who are blind or have low vision. Coakley presents in the area of low vision nationwide and has chaired several task forces to establish low vision projects in other states. She has taught Master’s level courses for Southwest Missouri State University, West Virginia University and Marshall University Graduate College. She is currently coordinating a program through Salus to certify teachers in West Virginia in the area of orientation and mobility. Coakley is a published author who has worked in the field of visual impairment since 1989.

Coakley is passionate about working with children who are blind or have low vision. Her work has provided free eye exams to thousands of patients throughout the state of West Virginia and the world, while providing hands-on experience for eye-care professionals and nursing students. She has been instrumental in changing how children with blindness and low vision are educated in Egypt, meeting with the Ministers of Education and Health to change perceptions and expectations. She leads a team that provides low vision services, education and surgeries to the underserved island of St. Lucia. Coakley has also duplicated the CVRP in British Columbia; this successful program is in its tenth year of providing evaluations and devices to children with low vision. Most recently, she traveled to San Blas Island, which has the highest incidence of albinism in the world, to offer low vision exams and services.

Coakley graduated from Marshall University with a bachelor’s degree in Education and later received a master’s degree in Leadership Studies/Administration from West Virginia Graduate College. In 1990, she received her Blind and Visually Impaired Certification from the University of Virginia.


About AFB
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. AFB's priorities include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. Headquartered in New York, AFB is proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the more than 40 years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB.


Amanda Kolling
AFB Communications