Rachel Zimmerman painting by Rob Schamberger
Ink and watercolor on 9″ x 12″ watercolor paper
Rachel Zimmerman (born 1972) at the age of twelve invented a device that gave those unable to easily communicate the power of communication. In 1984 for a science project in London, Ontario Rachel developed a software program using Blissymbols, allowing those with severe physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy to simply use a touchpad of symbols that convey their thoughts, and the program then sends that to a printer that will output those thoughts into written English or French. The project then went on to win a silver medal at the Canada-wide World Exhibition of Young Inventors in 1985 and the YTV Television Youth Achievement Award.
Rachel earned a BA in physics from Brandeis University in 1995 and a master’s degree in Space Science from the International Space University in France in 1998. She has spent her career working for NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, the Planetary Society and the California Institute of Technology. From 2013 to 2016 Rachel was the president of the Science Education for Students with Disabilities, and has worked throughout her career to tailor NASA innovations to aid people with disabilities.