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The Crane Gargoyle Award

This award recognizes precedent-setting achievements in the application of rights, construction of access or the practice of accommodation for people with disabilities.

2004: Marion May, Inclusion Solutions, and Eden Supportive Living

2003: Edward J Bannister and Mayor Roger C Claar. On June 24, 2003 Bolingbrook became the first village in Illinois — and the first in the country — to make accessibility into the home a requirement for all new single family houses. The law was for full visitability because this progressive, forward-thinking mayor wanted to provide more accessibility for people who are elderly and people who are disabled. Standards now include making doorways 36 inches wide, having at least one entrance with a ramp, reinforcing bathroom walls, lowering light switches and raising electrical outlets. In 1999 Ed Bannister met with the mayor to discuss housing for the elderly and people with disabilities. Claar, who immediately understood the need, the concept, and the benefit to people living in Bolingbrook, began his research — with local builders, his building department, etc. Through the work of Ed Bannister, a local activist who uses a wheelchair, the village will by the end of the year have about 3,000 homes built with these standards, according to local officials. The Mayor was nominated by Ed Bannister. Ed Bannister was nominated by his wife, Claudette Knowles-Bannister, who wrote "I am nominating this person for this award because of his ability to harness his own personal challenges and struggles to tirelessly channel them in a way that is beneficial to a progressively expanding segment of our society, i.e., the elderly and people with disabilities."

2002: Mirko Popadic, a videographer, for his unique advocacy for minority groups, including people with disabilities. Nominated by Dorie Stewart, Mirko Popadic has done extensive work toward advancing the independence and empowerment of people with disabilities. "He doesn't have a big head; he has a big heart. He is charming, humble and gracious. He conducts himself with wit and wisdom. His inherent talent for capturing reality on camera, with dignity and honesty, is a gift. Many entities have benefited from his skill and sensitivity in documenting vital messages that facilitate social change."

2001: William O'Brien, Anita Alvarez, and Toya (Girl X), for their precedent-setting advocacy for the use of alternative communications in the Illinois court system.

2000: Shelley Sandow, for her unique advocacy.

1998: Bonita Bergin, for the establishment of The Assistance Dog Institute over thirty years ago in California and for her continuing research and education.

1997: Eileen Nelson, for her unique innovations for the benefit of dyslexics. A former Professor of Education, she established the Eileen Nelson Dyslexia Institute in April 1996, a first in the Chicago region. She has held faculty posts at City University of New York, Roosevelt University (NY), Wayne University, and National Lewis University. In 1996 Nelson left her post as Reading Disabilities Consultant at Literacy Volunteers of America Illinois where for ten years she shared her background in dyslexia research and treatment by giving volunteer workshops for tutor training locally and throughout the state and nation. Today 15% of children entering school and as many as 40% of adult illiterates are learning disabled. Nelson is now giving her full attention to training teachers and tutors, performing assessments and tutoring dyslexics at her Loop office. The special training of ten to fifteen hours incorporates her unique method for instructing dyslexics which was patented by the US Patent and Trademark Office in 1983.Professor Nelson was nominated by Cynthia L Batie, who wrote, "I nominate Dr Nelson for the Precedent Setting Achievement Award because as a parent of a learning disabled child, specifically dyslexia, I am well acquainted with the lack of trained professionals privately or within the public school system that have addressed this often ignored disability."

1996: Alejandro Benavides, for his community leadership and professional accomplishments in the design and administration of special education programs and services. Superintendent of the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education in Chicago, Dr. Benavides began his career 25 years ago as a special education and bilingual education teacher in West Aurora Public Schools; he has developed statewide policy and practice in both areas as a specialist for the Illinois State Board of Education and for the Chicago Public Schools where he helped develop the Special Education Three Year Plan which integrates appropriate services for exceptional students of limited English proficiency. Dr. Benavides is specially recognized at this time for his achievements in bringing the old Illinois "Children's School" through a major administrative transition and for constructing at the new Center for Rehabilitation and Education a model of education in a special setting for a life in the mainstream to come. Nominated by Charles Ponquinette, Superintendent of Aurora East Public Schools and by Maria Elena Rodriguez-Sullivan, Executive Director of the National Center for Latinos with Disabilities.

Council for Disability Rights

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

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