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Pennsylvania-Delaware Chapter, Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired

The Penn-Del AER Service Award was established to recognize an AER professional who has demonstrated outstanding contributions and performance to the field serving the education and/or rehabilitation needs of individuals with visual impairment in Pennsylvania and Delaware.

In Memory of Our Colleague and Friend, Dr. Richard L. Welsh, the award was renamed the Richard L. Welsh Service Award. Dr. Richard L. Welsh (Rick) was a well-respected leader, mentor, colleague, and friend. Rick provided orientation and mobility (O&M) instruction to students at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children, was an instructor at the University of Pittsburgh and established the O&M teacher training program at Cleveland State University. He served as superintendent of the Maryland School for the Blind and then was president of the Greater Pittsburgh Guild for the Blind who led the consolidation of the Guild and the Pittsburgh Association for the Blind (now the Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh). Rick was instrumental in the founding of the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) which was a consolidation of American Association of Workers for the Blind (AAWB) and the Association for Education of the Visually Handicapped (AEVH) and served as the first elected President. He co-edited the landmark textbook, Foundations of Orientation and Mobility. The Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania-Delaware Chapter of AER offers it deepest appreciation of Rick who served with boundless dedication to our chapter as well as the organization; now, therefore,the Penn-Del AER Chapter at the 2015 conference changed the name of the Penn-Del AER Service Award to be named the Penn-Del AER Richard L. Welsh Service Award in recognition of his distinguished career on behalf of persons with visual impairments and the professionals who serve them.

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Access the award nomination description for details and download the award nomination form:

Award Nomination Description 2022 Penn-Del AER

Award Nomination Form 2022 Penn-Del AER

photo of Debby Holzapfel

2019 Penn-Del AER Richard L. Welsh Service Award Recipient

Debby Holzapfel

Debby has been committed to advancing the field of education and rehabilitation of the blind and visually impaired by being a presence in AER both on the regional and national level for about 40 years. Debby worked for PaTTAN as an Educational Consultant before retiring in November 2012.

photo of Brenda Loughrey

2018 Penn-Del AER Richard L. Welsh Service Award Recipient

Brenda Loughrey

Brenda is a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments and Assistive Technology Specialist. She is currently working at the University of Pittsburgh for the Vision Studies Program.

photo of Audrey J. Smith

2017 Penn-Del AER Richard L. Welsh Service Award Recipient

Audrey J. Smith

Audrey is a retired Professor, and coordinator in the College of Education and Rehabilitation; at Salus University. She has an Occupational Therapy Doctorate Low Vision Rehabilitation Track

Previous recipients of the Penn-Del AER Service Award 


This award was renamed in 2015 in honor of Dr. Welsh. It is now named the Richard L. Welsh Service Award.

2016    Holly Russell

2015    Brenda Egan

2014    Richard Bosserman

2013    Dr. Lynn Fox, University of Pittsburgh

2012    Sandy Finkel, Allegheny Intermediate Unit #3

2011    Mary Nelle McLennan

2010    Stephanie Van, Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services, Pittsburgh Office

2008    Jackie Brennan, Overbrook School for the Blind

2006    Roberta O’Rourke, Blind and Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh

2004    Dr. George J. Zimmerman, University of Pittsburgh

2003    Dr. Richard Welsh, Pittsburgh Vision Services

2002    Deborah Armbruster, Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services, Pittsburgh Office

2001    Judy van Naerssen, Overbrook School for the Blind

1999    Pamela Whittaker, Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services, Altoona Office

1998    Rich Peters, Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services, Pittsburgh Office

2020 Penn-Del AER Richard L. Welsh Service Award Recipient

Shelly Faust-Jones

Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments

Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist

Certified Vision Rehabilitation

Therapist Deaf-Blind Rehabilitation

PA Bureau of Blindness of Visual Services

photo of Shelly Faust-Jones

2021 Penn-Del AER Richard L. Welsh Service Award Recipient

Sherry Sandt

Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments

Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist

Chester County Intermediate Unit #24


photo of Sherry Sandt

Richard L. Welsh Award