The Viscardi Center Announces International Awards to Honor Most Influential Members of the Disability Community

For Immediate Release:

December 10, 2012

Contact: Kim Brussell




Senator Robert Dole and Academy Award Winning Actress Marlee Matlin to Co-Chair

Selection Committee Seeking Contemporary Leaders

The Viscardi Center today announced the creation of a unique awards program to identify and recognize exemplary leaders in the disability community who have had a profound impact on shaping attitudes, raising awareness and improving the quality of life of people with disabilities.

The Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards were developed to honor the legacy and visionof the Long Island-based Center’s founder, Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr., who himself wore prosthetic legs. As one of the world’s leading advocates for people with disabilities he served as a disability advisor to eight presidents, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter. The recipientsof the Awards will be announced on March 4, 2013, to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who as a member of the disability community was among the most influential figures of the 20th century.

“These awards are designed to acknowledge influential individuals with disabilities who serve as leaders, mentors and role models and aredramatically improving the lives of people in the disability community on a broad scale,” said John D. Kemp, president and CEO ofThe Viscardi Center. “We are conducting an international search forcontemporary figureswho, like Dr. Viscardi, are leading by example.”

Individuals of any age, with any type of disability, are eligible.Nominations will be considered from many walks oflife, including but not limited to business, innovation, education, military, health care, nonprofit, entertainment, athletics, government, public service, and emerging leaders. Nominations open today and may be submitted at

A Selection Committeeconsisting of notable public figures from the U.S. and abroad who have fought for the rights of others with disabilitiesis being assembled. The committee, co-chaired byformer U.S. Senator Robert Dole and Academy Award winning actress Marlee Matlin, also includes Dr. Viscardi’s daughter, Nina Viscardi; Cari Dominguez, former Chair, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; RohiniAnand, Chief Diversity Officer, Sodexo; Col. (ret.) Sherwood “Woody” Goldberg; and Axel Leblois, President & CEO, g3ICT, to name a few.

As a result of an injury suffered while in the U.S. Army during World War II, then2nd Lt., Dole was left with limited use of his right arm. He served in the Senate from 1969 to 1996 and was a lead sponsor of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 that protects the rights of children and adults with disabilities. He continues to advocate on behalf of people with disabilities, appearing on the Senate flooras recently as December 4 to urge the Senate to ratify the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, which was not successful.

“I am honored to be part of The Viscardi Center’s work to identify today’s leaders in the global disability community,” Senator Dole said. “Thanks to the ground-breaking efforts of people such as Dr. Viscardi, the disability community is no longer a marginalized constituency but rather a vibrant voice for civil rights and full participation for all people. I am proud to join this effort.”

Matlin,who has been deaf since she was 18-months old, has enjoyed worldwide recognition as an actress. She is an active spokeswoman for the deaf community. “A disability is only as limiting as you let it be,” Ms. Matlin said. “Dr. Viscardi proved this over his lifetime by breaking through so many physical and social barriers. It’s an honor to be part of a team that will honor his legacy by identifying those who, today, are changing the world and attitudes.”

The Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards winners will have:

  • served as a powerful force for change and enhanced the opportunities for people with disabilities to participate fully in all aspects of society;
  • demonstrated a vision, understanding and commitment to improving the quality of life of people with disabilities; and
  • helped to lead societal transformation that is producing improved outcomes and higher expectations for the disability community.

Additional information and submission instructions may be found at

Nominations will be accepted until January 22, 2013.

The Viscardi Center provides Pre-K through High School education, school-to-work transition services, vocational training, career counseling and placement, assistive technology and workforce diversification assistance to children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities and businesses. A global leader, it employs more than 300 professionals, including experts in education, human resources and technology. Learn more at

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