On February 15th, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce hosted the 20th Annual Military Appreciation Awards at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay has been selected as one of five cities nationwide to receive the 2018 Great American Defense Community designation. Not only would the event honor this achievement, but it would also recognize the service men and women in the Tampa Bay Area. One honoree received a very special award created here at Levy Recognition.
Corporal Michael L. Jernigan, USMC (Ret.) proudly served with Company E 2nd Battalion 2nd Marine regiment. On August 22, 2004, while on a deployment in Iraq, Corporal Jernigan’s platoon was on patrol when it was hit by two 155mm artillery shells buried under the ground. Corporal Jernigan suffered life-changing injuries including the loss of both eyes. His blindness did not stop him. In 2006, Corporal Jernigan co-founded Paws for Patriots at Southeastern Guide Dogs: a program that provides guide dogs and service animals to veterans.
To honor his service and recognize Corporal Jernigan for his exceptional commitment to improving the lives of service members, veterans and their families, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce contacted us to create an award that could be enjoyed by Corporal Jernigan despite his vision loss. Levy Recognition was challenged to produce an award featuring Braille.
We knew it would test our talents and our manufacturing capabilities, but an award this special deserved our best efforts. We have never produced a Braille award, so our designers and engineers put their heads together and started brainstorming ideas for producing the award.
Using our digital-printing machine, we are able to create 3D texturing on glass pieces. While our machine was not configured to produce Braille writing, our award designer came up with a plan. Using an online translator to create Braille images and saving the result as a raster image made it possible to bring the writing into design software that would communicate with the digital printing machine. Once the image was converted into a file that could be understood by our design programs, our designer then converted the raster image to vector dots. To make sure the dots met ADA standards, our designer communicated with a teacher for blind students and got the specifications for the size required for the Braille to be legible to a blind person.
Following these specifications, we were able to configure the accolade to fit within the 8x10 glass plaque. The size of the Braille had to be ADA compliant. This meant that the message would take up the entire surface of the plaque and the small area left blank in the artwork provided by the Chamber wasn’t enough to fit the Braille writing. That’s when it occurred to our designer that the Braille could be imprinted in clear on top of the artwork. This way, the award would look exactly like the ones given to other, seeing recipients and the Braille would not interfere with the visual beauty of the award. Clear dots of ink were added in layers to the glass plaque to create a finished piece that the blind recipient was able to read.
We are honored to have been a part of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce’s 20th Annual Military Appreciation Awards Banquet. We are even more honored to have been given the opportunity to produce the very special award for Corporal Jernigan. Levy Recognition is excited to show our support for our military service members. Congratulations to all the servicemen and women recognized during the event.