To be honest, we only came across Ted Henter recently but we thought he was a great person to be our first VIP. We love the fact that he not only invented a brilliant product for the visually impaired, but then went on to become a top notch waterskiier.
Ted Henter is an American who, in 1978 aged 21, had a car accident that left him blind. In his early 20s he completed an Engineering background but after his accident he felt that opportunities for a blind engineer were limited. With this in mind, he took a series of courses with the aim of becoming a computer programmer. This led Ted to start developing some of the first talking computers for blind people in the early 80s.
Ted Henter’s most famous invention (so far!) is JAWS – Job Access With Speech. JAWS is a computer program that translates what’s on a computer screen into voice or Braille. Ted believed that being visually impaired should not stop you from living your life to its full potential. This translated into a desire to create a product to assist with finding work. Ted also worked on other assistive technologies for helping visually impaired people in everyday life.
And what of Ted’s waterskiing prowess? Prior to his accident, Ted was to become a professional motorcycle racer. With that no longer an option, he returned to a previous hobby of waterskiing which he triumphed at. Before his retirement in 1991 Ted won six out of seven competitions in the United States and scored two international wins. He also won the overall Gold medal in the United States and World Championship for Disabled Skiers.
What an inspiration! You can listen to an interview with Ted Henter here.