PITTSBURGH, PA-James "Jamie" Protho, Associate Systems Consultant for Bender Consulting Services, Inc. (Bender Consulting ) a Pittsburgh-based consulting firm that hires technology professionals with disabilities, will be the recipient of the Prentke Romich Communication Technology Employment Award. This national award is sponsored by the United Cerebral Palsy Association of America. The award recognizes individuals who have achieved success in employment by using augmentative communication devices. Jamie is a person with cerebral palsy who has accomplished a great deal of success in his professional life. After obtaining his Masters degree in Rehabilitation Science and Technology from the University of Pittsburgh, he joined Bender Consulting Services, Inc. and works on assignment at Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield as a computer programmer. "Competitive employment means earning a competitive salary that allows me to live on my own. Now I have the potential to earn levels of compensation that are bounded only by my efforts." "It is an honor to be chosen out of so many people who use augmentative communication," said Jamie.

Ms. Loretta McLendon, Jamie's manager on site at Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, comments on the rewarding working relationship that she and the rest of the Highmark staff have with Jamie. "Working with Jamie has been very fulfilling for Highmark. I am glad to have Jamie as a part of my team. He has already been an asset and I look forward to more successes as he continues to be a contributing team member."

Joyce A. Bender, President and CEO of Bender Consulting has a passion to help people with disabilities obtain gainful employment, as she herself has epilepsy. She knows first-hand the employment opportunities for people with disabilities. While they have improved, there is much work that needs to be done. "Many people who use augmentative communication are either unemployed or underemployed. Jamie's exemplary performance proves why the attitudinal barriers must come down - Jamie is an outstanding employee and an asset to Bender Consulting . I commend our partner, Highmark, Inc. for focusing on ability and setting the "high mark" for other companies," said Joyce Bender.

The award will be presented to Jamie during the UCPA Annual Conference in Minneapolis, MN, April 25-27, 2002.