AOK Cover
June 2008
In This Issue
McBryde Johnson Passes
Gary at Sanofi Aventis
Great Music Find
SCI Hall of Fame 2008
Quick Links
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People with disabilities owe their dramatic emergence to the vision and hard work of some real pioneers with disabilities - who fought for their own recognition and potential in society at the same time as they fought for the rights of others.

We just lost a special one. In this issue I honor Harriet McBryde Johnson who passed on June 4.

In future issues I'll continue to highlight the true heroes of Modern Disability, past and present.

Wishing you a lovely summer. Read on. Lead on!

Harriet McBryde Johnson Passes at 50

Honoring a Remarkable Modern Advocate

In her New York Times article, "Unspeakable Conversations" attorney, disability advocate, and author Harriet McBryde Johnson wrote, "For those of us with congenital conditions, disability shapes all we are. We take constraints that no one would choose and build rich and satisfying lives within them. We enjoy pleasures other people enjoy, and pleasures peculiarly our own. We have something the world needs."

Harriet McBryde Johnson 2Harriet had a congenital neuromuscular disease that led to significant spinal curvature and a very, very thin body. She lived much longer - and achieved a great deal more - than many expected. She died in her sleep after having put in a full day at the office.

Living in Charleston, SC, McBryde Johnson had been chair of the local Democratic Party (yet struggled to gain accessibility commitments at national conventions), and she was a community player as much as a key disability advocate. She was a woman of southern charm capable of fierce honesty, willing to speak truth to power.

Among her targets: The Jerry Lewis Telethon (for failing to convey that the child she was could become the woman she was), eugenics promoter Professor Peter Singer of Princeton University (whom she debated in public on the question of whether she should have been killed as a baby), and anyone who dare claim to judge her quality of life based on her significant impairments.

Her memoir, "Too Late to Die Young: Nearly True Tales from a Life" was published in 2005. The Washington Post reviewed it saying, "With a voice as disarmingly bold, funny, and unsentimental as its author, this is a thoroughly unconventional memoir that shatters the myth of the tragic disabled life."

I've had the honor of meeting and working with many key disability leaders, but sadly, never Harriet - while her name and exploits continually crossed my radar. My work builds on hers, and her life modeled our core message: it's the person, not the disability that matters, and we musn't waste the potential we all have to offer.
A Corporate Model for Disability Awareness

Sanofi Aventis and Mission Possible

Sanofi AventisOn June 12 I visited Bridgewater, NJ and gave a 90 minute Modern Disability Awareness talk for a general session, and then led a 90 minute interactive workshop for HR staff at Sanofi Aventis, a leading  pharmaceutical company headquartered in Paris. (I'm hoping for a referral!)

I helped them launch "Mission Possible" in the U.S., Sanofi Aventis' commitment to hiring and retaining people with disabilities.

Janet Wolan and Maureen Rucker, shown above, are recruiters in the HR department, and invited me to share the Modern Disability story. It's good folks like these who are tuned into the emerging potential of Modern Disability. They are my perfect partners on the mission. Thanks to you both!

An evaluation comment:

"I had no experience until I heard Gary speak about people with disabilities, and this will really help me. He is very good at what he does and he has a good sense of humor. Really wonderful, Gary. Keep it up!"

Live Calendar Online

Thanks to my use of eSpeakers, a server-based scheduling tool designed for speakers, my speaking schedule is now live at Go there, click on "Current Schedule," at the lower left, and you'll see my full lineup.

Look for your city on my schedule, refer me to a client in the area, and you'll get a free talk from me if it results in a booking.

Or maybe there are some geographic gaps you can fill as I wing from west to east and back in September and October. Lots of great ways for us to work together to spread the word of Modern Disability.

Webinar Redux

Yes, I said I'd start in May, but I ran into some tech problems.

WebEx, the online tool I had chosen, proved not to be compatible with JAWS for blind users. Not OK with me. Full accessibility is a must.

So stay tuned. I'm zeroing in on the right tool, and will be announcing online sessions soon on Disability Etiquette, Sexuality & Disability, and Ergonomics.
Latest Music Find

Eliane Elias Dreamer Jazz a la Brazil

Eliane Elias is the real deal.

I found her in JazzIz Magazine in the Northstar Cafe in Columbus, OH. She was featured on the cover.

A solid jazz pianist in the spirit of Bill Evans (her latest album a tribute to him) - and she sings as easily as she breathes.

Naturally, her tradition is Bossa Nova, so her album "Eliane Elias Sings Jobim" would be a good place to start. "Dreamer" is another recent release, one of 18 for her now, with a wonderful cover of "Call Me".

2008 SCI Hall of Fame

Last Day for Nominations

I'm getting this to you just in time!

AOK CoverToday, June 27, 2008, is the final day for you to make nominations to the Spinal Cord Injury Hall of Fame.

I had the honor of being inducted last November at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. in the category of Disability Educator.

Go to the National Spinal Cord Injury nominations page to nominate people for this year's class.

There are 17 categories: Assistive Technology, Benefactor, Corporate Executive, Disability Activist, Disability Educator, Entertainment, Entrepreneur, Government Executive, Grassroots Organizer, Legislative, Media, Research in Basic Science, Research in Quality of Life, Sports, including three new categories: Military, International, and Direct Provider.

The 2008 Hall of Fame ceremony will be held in New Orleans on September 25, sponsored by the Medtronic Foundation, the AT&T Foundation, Motorola, and Acorda Therapeutics.
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