Dr. Joshua Miele, a blind principal accessibility researcher with Amazon Lab126, was named one of 25 MacArthur Fellows for his work helping blind and visually impaired (BVI) people's access to technology.

Distributed annually since 1981, the MacArthur Fellowship—known informally as the “genius grant”—is awarded “to extraordinarily talented and creative individuals as an investment in their potential.” Its purpose is to enable recipients to exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society, and includes a $625,000 stipend with no conditions, which can be used to advance the recipients’ expertise, engage in bold new work, or anything else they wish to do.

Miele has been with Amazon for nearly three years and develops devices that provide blind and visually impaired people with access to everyday technologies and digital information. In his role, he’s contributed to projects such as braille compatibility with Fire tablets; Alexa’s Show and Tell feature on Echo Show devices, which makes it easier for the BVI community to identify household pantry items; and VoiceView, Amazon’s screen reader for Fire tablets, Fire TV, and Echo devices with screens. He’s also worked on improving the accessibility of many other Amazon devices like the AmazonBasics Microwave, Echo Frames, Ring devices, and more. Aside from his product work, Miele has helped foster a community of BVI employees in the AmazonPWD affinity group and raised the bar on a variety of internal accessibility experiences for Amazon employees with disabilities.

Josh Miele stands for a headshot photo in a green area outside of his home. The greenery in the background is soft and slightly out of focus.
Josh Miele, Principle Accessibility Researcher at Amazon Lab126, stands for a portrait at his home on Friday, Oct. 9, 2020 in Berkeley, California.
Photo by Stephen Lam/AMAZON

Before coming to Amazon, Miele worked at the Smith-Kettlewell Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Blindness and Low Vision, where he led a team of engineers and scientists working on a wide variety of accessible information challenges in education, employment, and entertainment. He is an active member of the San Francisco Bay Area’s vibrant disability community and is the former President of the Board of Directors of the San Francisco LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. He has also served on the boards of the Ed Roberts Campus (ERC) and the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP).

“We are incredibly proud of Josh for his dedication to making technology more accessible, effective, and affordable for people around the world. I’m humbled to work with and learn from Josh, and I’m so glad his efforts continue to be recognized,” said Devices & Services Senior Vice President Dave Limp.