n May 7 Ralph Braun, founder and CEO of The Braun Corp., became one of 14 individuals honored at the White House as “Champions of Change” — part of a program created by President Obama to promote excellence in science, technology, engineering and math among people with disabilities. Said Kareen Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy, “The leaders we’ve selected as Champions of Change are proving that when the playing field is level, people with disabilities can excel, develop new products, create scientific inventions, open successful businesses and contribute equally to the economic and educational future of our country.”

Braun, 71, began using a wheelchair after being diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy in 1947. Determined to stay independent, he engineered the world’s first motorized scooter as well as the first accessible motor vehicle. Today, the Braun Corp. is a leading manufacturer of accessible vehicles and wheelchair lifts.