American Association of Blind Teachers

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The following article originally appeared in the
September 18, 1990. While this article speaks to Dr. Coombs's outstanding professional career, you may also want to visit another article on this site which describes his contributions as a
Pioneer of Accessability.

Norman R. Coombs, a blind professor of history at the Rochester Imstitute of Technology, has been named New York State Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

The organization chose Coombs from 537 state nominees for his extraordinary commitment to teaching, service to RIT and his profession, and his impact on students, according to RIT. About 2,900 colleges and universities belong to the council, the nation's largest association of educational institutions. Coombs, who has worked at RIT since 1961, is known for teaching his classes along with telecourses in the College of Continuing Education through RIT's computer network. He conducts class discussions and sends and receives assignments all on the computer. A voice synthesizer enables him to "read" his students' electronic messages. "I tell them I'm blind, but it's irrelevant," Coombs said in the written announcement. "I work on the computer the same as they do. The computer obliterates my handicap."

Coombs is on a sabbatical leave to adapt three of his black history courses for computer delivery. Coombs wrote Black Experience in America and he has published extensively on computerized instruction. He has a master's degree and a doctorate in history from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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