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The Gnawing Gargoyle Award

This award rewards the creation or improvement of a public policy benefiting people with disabilities.

2004: Access Living

2003: Martha Younger-White uses her considerable talents, skills and knowledge to improve the lives of people with disabilities. A long-time advocate for their rights, she has worked in the area of government policy and planning since the mid-1980s. She served in Chicago's former Department on Disability, from 1991 to 1997 in the state's Dept. of Rehabilitation Services, and since 1997 in the state's Department of Human Services where she is currently Bureau Chief of the Bureau of Accessibility and Safety Systems which she began in 1998. She has worked diligently to promote the strengths of people with disabilities while helping individuals recognize their own capabilities to become self-advocates. Even her free time is devoted to disability-related projects, such as the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities, the National Federation for the Blind, and VSA arts of Chicago, among others. And she has completed an advanced course in American Sign Language at the Chicago Hearing Society to enable her to communicate and advocate more efficiently with individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. She was nominated by Amy J Serpe, Executive Director of VSA arts of Chicago.

2002: Kathleen Parker, a state Senator, for her years of work in public policy advocacy. Nominated by Meghan E Dee, Senator Parker has a long and distinguished career of public service that she began in 1979 as Tax Assessor for Northfield Township. As a member of the RTA Board from 1983 to 1995, she demonstrated her concern in response to the disability community's needs for accessible public transportation.

2001: Phyllis Doering, Commissioner of the Chicago Human Relations Commission, for her achievements as a Public Policy Advocate.

2000: Elaine Hoff, for her public policy advocacy.

1998: Sue Gamm, for a career dedicated to advancing the rights of children with disabilities — first as an attorney with the US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights and more recently as the Chief of Specialized Services at the Chicago Board of Education.

1997: National Center for Latinos with Disabilities, for its organizing work among parents and professionals to require that special education be delivered by qualified staff and for their continuing work to provide appropriate training for professionals and parents. The Center (originally Fiesta Educativa) was founded in 1983 by parents and professionals in response to the lack of services for Latinos with disabilities throughout the state. Latino children and adults with disabilities and their families have historically been denied services and information because they could not speak or could not understand English and the service providers did not provide bilingual services. Latinos with disabilities and their parents have also been denied equal protection under the law and their civil rights have been routinely violated due to failure to provide adequate interpreters. In other situations Latinos with disabilities and in need of special ed instruction are not found eligible for services by monolingual staff and evaluations and are placed in English only classes. Often related services such as speech and occupational therapy, counseling, vocational evaluations and services are only available in English. The Center has become the national model for specialized training and materials which are being replicated in other states. The Center was nominated by Dr Alejandro Benavides, a 1996 Gargoyle winner.

1996: Paul Schroeder, Director of the American Foundation for the Blind in Chicago, is a longtime advocate for the rights of individuals with visual impairments. His two most recent positions are the Director of Governmental Affairs for the American Council of the Blind, and the National Program Associate in Technology and Telecommunications and Director of the Midwest Office of the American Foundation for the Blind. He regularly consults on technology policy with governmental agencies, private industry, and non-profit organizations. He is currently building relationships with major private corporations to help insure that they meet the technology access needs of individuals who are blind or visually impaired. He also serves on Tech Watch, a taskforce established by the National Council on Disability to monitor compliance with federal technology legislation and to promote technology access. For many years Schroeder has been a driving force in telecommunication access for people with visual impairments. A major problem with such access is the shift to Graphical User Interface (GUI) or Windows-based environments, which are difficult, often impossible to use with adaptive computer technology such as speech or Braille output. Schroeder was a key player in NCD's negotiations with Microsoft Corporation resulting in a company-wide access policy. Schroeder was also instrumental in advocating for the inclusion of key provisions in the Telecommunications Act Amendments of 1996 which require telecommunications services and equipment to be accessible to and usable by people with disabilities, if readily achievable. Schroeder's outgoing and friendly manner along with his nontechnical speaking style make seemingly incomprehensible technology law and issues comprehensible to the most nontechnical listener. Additionally his collaborative spirit benefits people with all types of disabilities, by promoting cooperation between industry, government and the disability community. Nominated by Marca Bristo, CEO of Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago in Chicago.

Council for Disability Rights

Knowing your rights is the easy part. Exercising them can be a bit trickier.

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