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Professor honoured for contribution to mobility for blind

Professor honoured for contribution to mobility for the blind

Professor Emeritus Steve La Grow has been awarded the Suterko-Cory Award, for contributions to the field of orientation and mobility for the blind, beyond the borders in which one lives and works.

Professor La Grow was recently presented the award in Dublin, Ireland, at the 16th International Mobility Conference attended by 200 delegates from 25 countries.

The award, named after Stanley Suterko and Dennis Cory, was presented to Professor La Grow by Professor Duane Geruschat, of John Hopkins University.

Professor Geruschat said it was bestowed “in recognition of Professor La Grow’s international leadership, dedication to the profession of orientation and mobility and distinguished efforts to improve services to individuals with visual impairment throughout the world.”

Professor La Grow says he is humbled by the award. “I feel particularly honoured as it was bestowed upon me by my peers in the field of orientation and mobility for the blind, and because it is given in the name of two individuals I have known and admired throughout my entire career. To have received this award is a real highlight of my 40 years in the field.”

As the award is specifically designed to recognise efforts to develop the profession of orientation and mobility beyond the political borders in which one lives and works, Professor La Grow’s work is very fitting.

In 1988 he left his home in the United States to design and deliver the first university-based training programme in New Zealand at Massey University. It became the first orientation and mobility training programme outside of the United States to gain University Accreditation.

Following that he extended his work beyond his new home in New Zealand to offer the first professional training programmes for instructors in Mongolia and Myanmar, and conduct numerous research projects with colleagues in the United States, Australia, Thailand and Hong Kong. He also served on boards and committees to promote orientation and mobility throughout the world, including as the World Blind Union’s liaison to the Executive Committee of the International Mobility Conference for more than 20 years.

Professor La Grow worked at Massey University for 28 years until his retirement in 2015. During that time he held various positions, including Head of the Department of Rehabilitation Studies, Research Director for the School of Health Sciences, Head of the School of Health and Social Services and Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor of the inaugural College of Health.

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