Raising awareness and advocating for people with disabilities and their families Raising awareness and advocating for people with disabilities and their families


The ACCESS Awards nominations are now open. Nominations will be accepted through Thursday, September 17.

Download the nomination form here.

The ACCESS Awards recognizes those in the greater community of the City of Wilmington who are opening doors and creating opportunities for people living with disabilities and their families. It serves as a tool to encourage investments in accessibility.

The award categories are:

  • Accessibility to Arts
  • Accessibility to Resources
  • Employment/Business Ownership by and for the Disabled
  • Community Involvement
  • William Pelham Award for Excellence

The 2014 ACCESS Awards recipients are:

Accessibility to Resources: First State School at Christiana Care Health System

First State School gives children and adolescents who would otherwise be homebound with serious illnesses the chance to attend schools with their peers while they get the medical attention they need. Located at Wilmington Hospital (501 W. 14th Street),  First State School offers kindergarten through high school education to children with diabetes, sickle-cell anemia, severe asthma, cancer and other illnesses that prevent them from attending regular school.

The first school of its kind in the United States, First State School serves as a quality model for the care of chronically ill children and adolescents. The program is only one of three in operation nationwide and is co-sponsored by Christian Care Health System and the Delaware Department of Education through the Red Clay School District. All teachers are state-certified employees of the Red Clay School District and give instruction according to the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and the Delaware State Contents Standards.

Learn about First State School at www.christianacare.org/firststateschool

Accessibility to the Arts: Mr. Penn Ketchum

Mr. Penn Ketchum is the proud owner of the Penn Cinema IMAX at 401 S. Madison Street on Wilmington's Riverfront. This beautifully constructed, state of the art theater, has 15 screens available for movie viewing with the IMAX. During construction of this facility, the Access Wilmington Committee was able to tour and make suggestions that would make it accessible for those with disabilities.

As a locally owned and operated company, Penn Cinema takes pride in the opportunity to support our local community. Their team of local owners, managers and employees are active members of the communities in which they live. Their goal is to strive to make a positive difference in all Wilmington communities.

Learn more about Penn Cinema's commitment to their community at www.penncinema.com/index.php?pID=299

Employment/Business Ownership By and For the Disabled: Janet L. Berry

Ms. Janet Berry is Executive Director of the Delaware Association for the Blind. Along with employing blind and hearing impaired individuals, she provides access to events such as bingo, book clubs, arts and crafts, summer camps for the blind, and trips to theaters, dinner, and historic places.

In her commitment to see that blind individuals are successful in all their endeavors, she provides employee training on accessible technology, equipment for employment, and has a taping program for recording books and periodicals for the blind.

Learn more about the Delaware Association for the Blind at www.dabdel.org

William Pelham Award for Excellence: Mr. Lewis K. (Ken) Rolph

Mr. Lewis K. Rolph, or Ken as he is known, is an esteemed member of Access Wilmington, the Mayor’s Committee on People with Disabilities. Ken, who is legally blind, was proudly nominated by the Committee for this award. His continued commitment to work on behalf of the disabled shows in his achievements and accomplishments which include:

  • Earning a Master's Degree in Social Work from Widener University.
  • Employment at Independent Resources, Inc. as a Coordinator of Blind and Visual Services. His responsibilities includes teaching typing, computer skills, and training on related technology programs.
  • Board President-elect of the Delaware Association for the Blind (DAB) and serves on the DAB Long Range Planning Committee.
  • Board member of the Delaware Chapter of the American Counsel of the Blind.
  • Assisted in developing the statewide 911 website system so it would be accessible to the blind.
  • Appointed by Delaware Governor Jack Markell to serve on the Vocational Counsel for the Blind and Visually Impaired. He is also President of the Governor’s Council for the Division for the Visually Impaired.

Ken is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and was a Nation Dean’s List Scholar.

Photos from the 2014 Access Wilmington Awards