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Government of India Recognizes IBM With National Award for Technology That Assists People With Disabilities


Company Also Receives Prestigious Helen Keller Award From India’s National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People

DELHI, India - IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it received several prestigious awards in India on World Disability Day, recognizing the company’s work to improve the lives of those with disabilities.

The first was India’s National Award 2009 in the category of “Technological Innovation” for best applied research aimed at improving the life of persons with disabilities - India’s highest such award. It was awarded personally by India’s Honorable President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil on behalf of India’s Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, and it recognizes the work of IBM Researchers in creating technology for what IBM calls the “Spoken Web.” This voice-enabled technology, developed by IBM Research - India, complements the Internet, and enables people with little or no literacy, or those with visual impairment, to access and share information, perform business transactions, and create social networks using mobile or landline phones.

IBM was also recognized with the 2009 Helen Keller Award from India’s National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People. The honor lauded IBM for demonstrating policies and practices that provide equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

IBM has earned these significant awards for three years in a row.

Finally, IBM received top honors in India’s National Awards in the categories of “Best Employer” and “Accessibility Innovation.” Three IBM employees also received this prestigious award in individual categories: Hari Raghavan and Murali C Sharma won for “Best Employee,” while Madhu Bala Sharma was recognized in the “Role Model” category.

“IBM recruited its first employee with disability almost a century ago and has a long history of creating an inclusive work environment,” said Shanker Annaswamy, Managing Director, IBM India Pvt Ltd. “We take pride in promoting accessibility through innovative products and unique services that can drive growth for the company, individuals, and the larger society. We are honored to receive this recognition for the third consecutive year.”

Dr. Guruduth Banavar, Director, IBM Research - India, and Chief Technologist for IBM India/South Asia added, “IBM strongly believes in developing technologies that not only assist persons with disabilities in their personal and professional lives, but also enable them to reach their full potential. The Spoken Web project has the capability to create a more inclusive society and open up new avenues for a large section of the population who can only create and access information on the internet by speaking and listening.”

Recognized as a top research lab in India, IBM Research - India is the youngest of IBM’s network of world-class, globally integrated research labs. Since its inception in April 1998, the lab has expanded to include sites in New Delhi and Bangalore, both of which deliver original and tangible innovations to business and society. Its location in India, which is experiencing burgeoning demand for telecommunications, inspires unique insights and innovation by local IBM Researchers, as evidenced by their work on the Spoken Web. IBM Research - India also brings to bear its world-class expertise in real-world disciplines such as systems management, distributed and high performance computing, software engineering, analytics and optimization, and services science.

About IBM’s Human Ability and Accessibility Initiative

IBM, which promotes diversity in every sphere of work, opened opportunities for people with disabilities as early as 1914. Today, persons with disabilities have jobs in a number of roles at IBM, including project management, programming, consulting, operations, quality assurance, and human resources. IBM has a distinguished history in developing technology to assist with physical challenges as well. The company was one of the first developers for disabilities when it developed a Braille printer in 1975 and a talking typewriter for the blind in 1980. More recently, IBM created the Home Page Reader, a browser that narrates Web content. Last year, IBM earned the Helen Keller Achievement Award in Accessibility from the American Foundation for the Blind.

For more information on IBM’s Human Ability and Accessibility initiatives, please visit:


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