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Blind U.S. Army Captain Teaches Us to Keep Learning and Serving!

Timothy Hornik, Co-Founder of TAVVI, with friend and colleague, Dan Standage, Director of Disability in Education, Student Veterans of America
Timothy Hornik, Co-Founder of TAVVI, with friend and colleague, Dan Standage, Director of Disability in Education, Student Veterans of America  (www.studentveterans.org)

In honor of Veterans Day, we salute Timothy E. Hornik, a Bookshare member and U.S. Army Captain who has a lifelong ambition to help Veterans who are visually impaired make successful transitions to civilian life.

In 2002, Tim earned his military commission from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. In September 2004, he was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom. That same year, sniper fire caused Tim to become blind.

For the next eight years, Tim remained on active duty managing operations, and he was able to fulfill his desire to serve others. Today, he is a Licensed Master of Social Work at the University of Kansas and is pursuing his PhD in Therapeutic Sciences.

Tim is also the cofounder of TAVVI, The Technology Association for Veterans with Visual Impairments, a working group under the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) in Kansas.  TAVVI develops programs and services to offer educational resources and personalized transition support to disabled Veterans pursuing postsecondary education.

The Blinded Veterans Association reports statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs that there are over 158,000 visually impaired Veterans in the U.S.  This rate may increase by 7,000 each year.  Today, more than ever before, Veterans are taking advantage of military-related educational programs and enrolling in universities, community colleges, and vocational institutions.

Tim estimates that within two years, TAVVI may serve 400 to as many as 800 Veteran students. To develop his program, he networks with colleagues at Veterans organizations and universities and advocates for digital accessible ebooks and technologies to be readily available for Veterans with print disabilities. Among the educational resources he recommends is Bookshare’s online library.  Membership to Bookshare is free for Veterans with qualified print disabilities who attend U.S. schools. Tim likes the varied collection of educational ebooks, technical and professional journals, and popular sci-fi he reads for pleasure.

Tim’s preferred technology device for reading accessible books is his iPhone with the Voice Dream Reader App. He was also an early adopter of Bookshare’s Read2Go app. Tim likes accessible books with synthesized text to speech (TTS) because the uniformity of voices helps him to read and skim information fast.  He also recommends that fellow Veterans read titles in Bookshare’s special military collection to help them better understand the challenges of transitioning back to civilian life. Titles Tim has read and recommend include:

In addition to his work at TAVVI, Tim writes a blog, Blind, but Not Alone, and has published a series of guides on features and applications for visually impaired iOS users. Last year, he represented wounded warriors at the M-Enabling Summit and provided evidence for a congressional hearing on the VA’s 508 usability survey for screen readers.  Tim also downloads children’s books from Bookshare to read with his young daughter and spends time volunteering with these organizations: Heartland Regional Group of Blinded Veterans in Kansas, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, and the University of Kansas, School of Social Welfare.

Logo for the Coalition to Salute America's heros. Image is a sillouette of a person in military with red stripes of a flag waving.
Logo for the Coalition to Salute America’s heroes. A sillouette of a military person saluting red stripes in a flag.

The Bookshare staff would like to thank Tim and all Veterans for their extraordinary service to our country. Together with Tim and organizations like TAVVI, we extend our thanks and salute university programs and organizations that bring people, resources, and information to serve disabled Veterans.

Happy Veterans Day!

For more information about Bookshare, visit www.bookshare.org or email Veterans@bookshare.org.  We appreciate your support in helping Bookshare add more titles and collections to the library for Veterans to read. Please donate today!  Thank you.

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