Albertson, NY - March 4, 2013 - The Viscardi Center today announced the recipients of a new international Award designed to identify and honor people living with disabilities for their work and influence on the global disability community of more than one billion people.

The Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards bear the name and honors the vision of Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr., who was one of the world's leading advocates for people with disabilities.

The announcement coincides 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. President Roosevelt was one of eight presidents whom Dr. Viscardi advised during his lifetime. Dr. Viscardi wore prosthetic legs and died in 2004 at the age of 91.

"I am proud to join The Viscardi Center and my fellow committee members in announcing this outstanding group of Henry Viscardi Achievement Award recipients," said former U.S. Sen. Robert Dole, Selection Committee co-chair. "All of them are champions for people with disabilities around the world. In turn, their work, and the stories of their lives, are important and set the bar high for the next generation of innovators, activists and leaders."

The Awards drew nominations from seven nations and cities throughout the U.S. In addition to Senator Dole, the Selection Committee was co-chaired by Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin and U.N Representative Luis Gallegos.

The recipients are:

  • Laurie Ahern, President, Disability Rights International, Washington, D.C.
  • Rosangela Berman Bieler, Senior Advisor on Children with Disabilities, UNICEF, New York City
  • Tony Coelho, former U.S. Rep. from California, primary sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
  • Lex Frieden, Professor, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Biomedical Informatics; Director of the Independent Living Research Utilization program at TIRR Memorial Hermann
  • Yoav Kraiem, Chairman, National Council for Community Relations - Mental Health, Israel
  • U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin, Rhode Island's 2nd Congressional District
  • Kathleen Martinez, Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C.
  • Patrick D. Rummerfield, Community Liaison, International Center for Spinal Cord Injury, Kennedy-Krieger Institute, Chesterfield, MO.
  • Michael Ashley Stein, Ph.D., Executive Director, Harvard Law School Project on Disability