Caucasian woman with brown curly hair, wearing glasses and a purple long-sleeved sweater dress, sitting in a wheelchair.

Rick Guidotti
Positive Exposure

One could say the road leading Emily Ladau towards this new role at The Viscardi Center started over a decade ago when she learned to drive in its, then groundbreaking, adaptive driver education program. At a pinnacle in her career, as Editor, Emily is once again in the driver’s seat at Viscardi as she propels forward the vision to evolve Able Newspaper into a multi-faceted media platform. The Center will publish its first issue of Able next month, under its umbrella, through a mission-based strategic acquisition announced on October 12, 2023. Able, a monthly periodical founded in 1991 and long considered the ‘newspaper of record’ for New York’s disability community, is read by disabled individuals, their caregivers and families, and professionals who serve people with disabilities. Aligning with The Viscardi Center’s “3Es” (educate, employ, empower), it enhances and expands upon the Center’s programs, services and advocacy for children, adults and veterans with disabilities.

A native New Yorker, Emily is a passionate disability rights activist, widely known disability-focused writer, skilled editor, storyteller, and digital communications strategist whose career began at the age of 10, when she appeared on several episodes of Sesame Street to educate children about her life with a physical disability. Her writing has been published in outlets including The New York Times, CNN, Vice, and HuffPost and her first book, Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to be an Ally, was published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House, in September 2021. Her depth of work includes previously serving as editor of The Century Foundation’s Voices of Disability Economic Justice Project, as well as the founding editor-in-chief of the Rooted in Rights Blog. Emily has spoken before numerous audiences, from the U.S. Department of Education to the United Nations. Central to all of Emily’s work is harnessing the power of storytelling to engage people in learning about disability.

“The Viscardi Center is thrilled that a journalist and leader of Emily Ladau’s considerable stature will serve as Editor for Able Newspaper,” said Dr. Chris Rosa, President & CEO of The Viscardi Center. “Emily’s experiences and insights as a journalist, writer, storyteller, social media content creator, disability culture cultivator and activist, position her uniquely to lead Able into a bold, new era of news by, and for, the disability community.”

“It’s a true honor and joy to work with The Viscardi Center as we carry forward the legacy of Able Newspaper,” said Emily. “I’m so proud to be part of New York’s diverse, vibrant disability community, and I’m committed to amplifying their perspectives and serving as a resource throughout our state.”

Emily has deep ties to Viscardi. In addition to forging a path to independence through the driving program, her collaboration with Viscardi stems back to Emily bringing strategic communications expertise as a consultant to the Center’s cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor/Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) to operate the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), as well as Project Accessible Oral Health – an initiative The Viscardi Center nurtured during its formative years to raise awareness of the critical need for equitable, quality and culturally competent oral health care for children and adults with a wide range of disabilities. More recently, Emily delivered the commencement speech to the Henry Viscardi School class of 2022 and in the same year, received one of the prestigious, international Henry Viscardi Achievement Awards.

After 33 years of publishing Able, founding publisher Angela Miele Melledy entrusted The Viscardi Center to continue and build upon its history of informing the disability community. Currently, Able has a print and online presence and is delivered to key locations where people with disabilities frequent. It is well-known by the disability community throughout New York state and the NYC-metro area. As the media platform is reimagined, it will include additional original content, perspectives from a variety of fresh voices, an accessible, dynamic web presence, and the introduction of new digital/video content.

About The Viscardi Center
The Viscardi Center, a network of non-profit organizations based in Albertson, NY, provides a lifespan of services that educate, employ, and empower people with disabilities. Its programs and services include Pre-K through High School education (to age 21), school-to-work transition services, vocational training and job placement, digital accessibility services, entrepreneurship, veteran employment and workforce diversification assistance for children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities and businesses. It was founded in 1952 by Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr. who himself wore prosthetic legs, served as disability advisor to eight U.S. Presidents, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter, and became one of the world’s leading advocates for people with disabilities.