Cynthia Ice Biography
Claim to Fame: IBM's Lotus Accessability Lead and software developer
Date of Death: May 14, 2008
Diabetes Type: 1
Cynthia Ice was born in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1959, to Inez L Busch, MD, and John F. Ice, MD. Ice's parents were both employed by the US Public Health Service, and the family moved often. At the age of seven, Cynthia was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. She excelled in school, graduating from Blue Hill Academy and Sarah Lawrence College. After graduation she returned to Sarah Lawrence to work with the school's housing and student activities departments.
While studying engineering at Brown University, Ice lost her eyesight to diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy causes heavy damage to the retina and will eventually lead to blindness if untreated. Approximately 80% of people with diabetes are susceptible to diabetic retinopathy. It is very difficult to treat and gets worse in time. She insisted on living alone, although everything from taking insulin shots to testing blood glucose levels was suddenly much more difficult. She got a guide dog, learned to use a computer, and went to work for Iris Associates.
With the advent of the Internet came new challenges for the visually impaired, and Ice was determined to tackle them from the inside. She worked for Lotus, then IBM, to develop and test programs to make computers more accessible. "She just seemed to have this bottomless pit of patience to educate us all," said Mary Beth Raven, a colleague at IBM. "She approached issues with a practicality and a sense of humor that ended up being more of a motivator. Many times we went the extra distance to make something more accessible just because we liked Cynthia."
Cynthia Ice died of a heart attack in her home in May of 2008. She is survived by two sisters, a brother, and her mother, who remember her with affection and admiration. Sister Shelley Ice said of her younger sister, "She was always very bold and brave."
Reviewed by dLife staff 02/15.
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