July 16, 2013
The Viscardi Center will honor two leaders in the international civil rights movement by presenting them with the inaugural Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards at the United Nations. John D. Kemp, President & CEO of The Viscardi Center, based on Long Island, will present the prestigious Awards to Rosangela Berman Bieler, senior advisor on children with disabilities at UNICEF, and Michael Ashley Stein, Ph.D., executive director of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability.
The Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards honor the vision and work of the late Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr., who was one of the world’s leading advocates for people with disabilities. The Awards program acknowledges the accomplishments of global leaders and raises awareness regarding those issues that continue to impact people with disabilities throughout the world.
The presentations will take place at 2 p.m., Friday, July 19 at UNICEF, in the UN Plaza, in Manhattan.
The establishment of the Viscardi Awards is timely as The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities continues to be discussed in the U.S. The Convention, a global project of the United Nations, seeks to protect the human rights of all people with disabilities. A vote in the U.S. Senate to join the Convention failed last December. Efforts to pass the measure and join the Convention continue.
“I am proud to be able to present Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards to Rosangela and Michael,” said Kemp. “They represent those who strive to change the world’s thinking about people with disabilities, and they are examples of the positive change that can occur with hard work and commitment.”
Rosangela Berman Bieler, originally from Brazil, is senior advisor on children with disabilities at UNICEF, and head of the organization’s new Disability Section. A person with quadriplegia since she was 18, she has been a disability rights advocate for more than 35 years. Throughout her career, she has identified and creatively resolved many issues which have an impact on people with disabilities. Berman Bieler has lived in the U.S. since 1995, and has worked for the World Bank, IADB and other international organizations. Her expertise on disability-related issues covers areas such as humanitarian action, HIV/AIDS, media, gender and human rights. She founded the Independent Living Center in Rio de Janeiro, as well as the Inter-American Institute on Disability and Inclusive Development (IDII) which played a key role on the development of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“In much of the world, children with disabilities are hidden and discriminated against because of their impairments and barriers thrown in their way by society. They are often neglected or abandoned,” Berman Bieler said. “UNICEF is committed to realizing the rights of children with disabilities, like those of all children.
Michael Ashley Stein, Ph.D. is the co-founding executive director of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability (HPOD), and one of the world’s foremost experts on disability law and rights. HPOD is a global resource offering pro bono policy and legal services and works to advance the requirements of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. A wheelchair user, Dr. Stein’s research is debunking stereotypes and offering innovative legal strategies and policy ideas that are regularly published in America’s prestigious law journals. His work has taken him to Bangladesh, China, the Philippines, South Africa, Vietnam, and many other nations.
“I am extremely honored to receive an Award named for Henry Viscardi, who had a great deal of influence on improving the lives of people with disabilities,” Stein said. “Protecting the human and civil rights of persons with disabilities remains a global issue and requires systemic changes and broad collaboration to ensure that progress continues to be made.”
The Viscardi Center, in March, announced nine recipients would receive the international Award. Absent a formal presentation then, Kemp is meeting with recipients as time and schedules permit. For information on the location of the presentation, please contact Kim Brussell at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 516-465-1608. Learn more about the 2013 Henry Viscardi Achievement Award recipients.
Details regarding the 2014 Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards, including nomination guidelines and deadlines, will be announced October 1.
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.