Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award

Robert Leslie Newman
Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award in the amount of $5,000

Robert Leslie Newman has been a staff member of the Nebraska Commission for the Blind for approximately thirty-five years, which parallels the length of his National Federation of the Blind (NFB) membership. Nearly ten years ago, Robert sought an additional way to enhance the results of his work with clients and also to engage and inspire a wider audience of blind people. He developed the “Thought Provoker” (TP), a Web-based discussion forum that makes use of peer counseling to achieve its purpose of educating the reader on the human potential for dealing successfully with blindness.

A Thought Provoker is a fictionalized short story that encapsulates a specific real-life, blindness-related issue demanding a sharing of thought. A new Thought Provoker comes out every month and is sent to members of the TP forum and to a number of mailing lists. Readers respond, and responses are collected, listed within each story, and posted on the Thought Provoker Web site for blind people from all over the world to read and learn from.

Robert has created one hundred thirty Thought Provokers so far, engaging and challenging blind people for almost ten years. The Thought Provokers pose questions about specific situations and permit the readers to develop their own responses. The Thought Provokers are a superlative tool in helping an individual overcome the myths and misconceptions of blindness. Most importantly, the Thought Provokers are a resource for blind people to learn how other people like themselves handle specific issues of blindness and to share their own experiences with blind people from all over the world.

The program is exclusively developed and promoted by Robert. He creates, moderates, and authors the majority of the short stories. He is also the Webmaster of the Thought Provokers Web site, thoughtprovoker.info.

Thought Provoker has touched the lives of blind people in every state in the United States and has a presence in several foreign countries. In addition, Thought Provoker is being used in high school and college classrooms as well as in rehabilitation settings.