We will miss Cynthia Waddell and Stephen Wing – What Will Your Legacy Be?

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It is always sad to lose our friends and especially sad when they are Thought Leaders making huge positive changes in their lives.

We lost two great leaders, people, advocates and friends in 2013.  I had the pleasure to know both Stephen Wing and Cynthia Waddell.

Both of these amazing people made great contributions in our ongoing efforts to assure that people with disability are fully included in all aspects of society.   Their legacies cannot be properly captured in one blog.  I wanted to try and honor both of these wonderful people and be sure their legacies are never forgotten.

I also believe that it is a good time to review our own lives. Are we following our passion, leading our best lives and building a Servant Leader legacy?

Others helped pave the way for inclusion and civil rights for people with disabilities. Many leaders in the community of people with disabilities are “Paying it Forward” but we would not be moving forward without the support of the leaders that fought before us like Justin Dart, Michael Winters and so many other great leaders.

Sara Ruh is 26 years old.  Sara was born with Down syndrome.  We were stunned and did not know what the future held for this precious baby.  We did not understand the civil right fights and debates that were taken place to assure she has basic civil rights.  People got out of their wheel chairs and crawled up the steps of Federal buildings in DC.  They wanted to assure that Sara and other people with disabilities had the same rights as others.  The civil right to access to education, employment, transportation, technology, affordable housing, vote and other rights afforded to all Americans.

It is bittersweet as our country celebrates the 23rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in July 2013.  We have made progress after 23 years.  However, we still have so much more to do especially with employment.  It takes all of us to continue to move towards full inclusion.  It also takes leaders, advocates, families and individuals to step forward and demand that we all have equal rights.

The ADA was passed when Sara was 3 years old.  Our family is grateful for the leaders that fought for Sara’s rights.  Many fought and continue to fight for the civil rights of all Americans with disabilities.

Sara and I joined the efforts early on working with other leaders like Cynthia and Stephen to assure Americans with disabilities continue to be fully included in society.  I want to thank Stephen Wing and Cynthia Waddell’s family and friends for their efforts to include people with disabilities in all aspects of society.  Their legacies are making a huge difference in the United States and all over the world.

Our family supports the UN Convention of Rights for People with Disabilities (CRPD).  We are hopeful the US will fully adopt the UNCRPD and take our place as global thought leaders.  To learn more about the convention please visit http://www.usicd.org.

Please let me tell you more about both of these amazing leaders. They both have powerful legacies and terrific families. They will be missed!!!Cynthia Waddell

Cynthia Waddell, a pioneer in developing and advocating for legal theories to support website accessibility for people with disabilities, died on April 3, 2013.   She was married a wonderful man named Thomas Waddell and had two brilliant daughters, Elizabeth Waddell and Christina Thompson.

She was also so thrilled to have a beautiful granddaughter named Julia Garcia.  She was so proud of her family and often talked lovingly about her husband and daughters.  She was so excited when her granddaughter was born.

I had the pleasure to work with Cynthia many times including sharing a spot on the G3ict Accessibility Expert Zone.  www.G3ict.org    I also joined her on stage at many conferences including to conference in Bangkok, Thailand.  She had a quick wit and a wonderful laugh.  I miss her expertise, contributions and friendship.

In the world of accessibility, Cynthia Waddell was an internationally recognized expert in the field of electronic and information technology as well as employment and construction.  She helped author the first accessible web design standard in the United States in 1995 that led to recognition as a best practice by the federal government and contributed to the eventual passage of legislation for Electronic and Information Technology Accessibility Standards (Section 508).

In September 2007, the International Communications Union commissioned her to write a background paper on meeting information and communications technology (ICT) access and services needs for people with disabilities.  The ITU paper is entitled “Major Issues for Development and Implementation of Successful Policies and Strategies” and has been well-received.  She is also the co-author of UNESCO publication addressing access to the built environment and accessible ICT for telecentres and multimedia centers:  Accessibility Guidelines for Multimedia Centres.

She co-authored two books: Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance (Apress 2006) and Constructing Accessible Web Sites (Glasshaus 2002, reprinted Apress 2003). These best practices and technical resources include the first global surveys of laws and policies in countries addressing accessible web design.  Constructing Accessible Web Sites was selected by the Japanese Industrial Standards Working Committee for translation into Japanese for an ICT training event.

The free CynthiaSays™ web accessibility tool and portal was named after her and endorsed by the American Council of the Blind. The CynthiaSays™ portal at www.cynthiasays.com  is a joint educational project of ICDRI, The Internet Society Disability and Special Needs Chapter, and HiSoftware.  The tool enables web developers to post content on the web that is accessible to assistive computer technology utilized by people with disabilities as well as alternate Internet access devices such as cell phones, palm pilots and personal digital assistants.

Her seminal paper, “The Growing Digital Divide in Access for People with Disabilities: Overcoming Barriers to Participation” was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Science Foundation for the first national conference under President Clinton on the impact of the digital economy.  It has been translated and cited by governments, businesses, universities, and entities around the world, including an IMF/World Bank Summit and the World Economic Development Congress.   A collection of her papers are posted on www.icdri.org

A frequent writer and speaker, her papers have been translated and cited by organizations including the National Council on Disability, an independent advisor to the US President, in their 2001 report The Accessible Future.

Cynthia Waddell was a Lecturer in Law and holds a Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University School of Law.  She was designated a Public Interest Disability Rights Scholar and a Dan Bradley Fellow for the Employment Law Center in San Francisco, California.  In addition, she was a Rotary International Foundation Fellow at Exeter University, England, as well as an USC-Cambridge University Scholar at Cambridge University, England.  She received her B.A. cum laude, from the University of Southern California where she received Honors at Entrance.

Cynthia made so many contributions that it is hard to list them all.  To find out more about her work please visit ICDRI. www.icdri.org

stephen wing

Stephen (Steve) Wing was a close friend. I joined many people that were very sad when he passed away on May 25, 2013.  I remember the sad day that he called me to let me know he was ill.  He told me that it was serious but that he believed in miracles.

He was a newlywed and adored his new wife, Mary Lopez Schell.  He was also a grateful man and loved his family more than anything in the world.

He was blessed by his family. He had two sons Nicolas and Thaddeus Eppley, a beautiful daughter named Emily, two step children Kelsey and Nicolas Schell and five gorgeous grandchildren.

I had the pleasure to know his first wife Elinda.  We became very close friends after we met at the US Department of Labor’s ODEP Circle of Champions meeting.  We hit it off right away and it felt like reconnecting with an old, dear friend.  Elinda bravely fought brain cancer for many years.  She loved her family and adored her children and grandchildren.  She was an amazing woman, terrific mother and a dear friend.  I think of her often and continue to miss her.

Steve served in the Army National Guard and was the president of WINGS; former president of Corporate Voices for Working Families.  Steve had an amazing career and he always focused on helping other.  His goal was to help everyone including people with disabilities and people that we aging be included and retained in the workforce.

Steve and I remained close friends after Elinda’s passing.  He was my mentor and friend and always encouraged me to Find My Voice.  I was thrilled when he told me that he had fallen in love with Mary Lopez Schell and had proposed to her.  He felt so blessed to have the opportunity to love two amazing women.

He married Mary and created an amazing life with her.
He formed a company with Mary called WINGS LLC. http://stephenmwing.com/

WINGS LLC engages corporations to develop partnerships with government agencies, non-profits, foundations, workforce investment entities, faith-based organizations, and educational institutions to create customized training programs to find qualified, skilled and talented workers. These partnerships enhance both companies and workers through increasing access to additional services, maximizing return on investments, and leveraging resources to create mutually beneficial results.  The goal of WINGS LLC is to become the leading firm bridging the American workforce system with diverse companies and organizations to put people to work and to enlighten employers to the long-term benefits and proven ROI that results from creating innovative workforce solutions with a diverse network of organizations.

Before founding WINGS LLC he was president of Corporate Voices for Working Families.  His responsibilities included managing the organization’s day-to-day operations and implementing its long-term strategic plan to improve the lives of working families and the competitiveness of American business.  Steve was formerly a member of the Corporate Voices Board of Trustees. He also served on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

Steve also had 35 years of corporate experience with CVS Caremark, the country’s largest provider of prescriptions and related health care services in the nation.  During his tenure at CVS he built several profitable divisions and programs including CVS’s Workforce Initiatives Department.  His ability to establish partnerships for corporations with government agencies, non-traditional employment resources, educational institutions, and faith-based organizations has resulted in innovative employment and training programs that thrive and produce a quality workforce. He is a corporate advisor for numerous faith-based, disability, and educational institutions and coalitions.

Steve’s CVS Caremark initiatives have garnered attention and recognition, including: 2009 National Employer of the Year from the Clubhouse Coalition for People with Disabilities; 2009 Top 50 Employers from Careers & the disABLED magazine; 2008 Pioneer Award from Homes and Working Families; the Pillar Award from Smart Business magazine, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s prestigious New Freedom Award.

Steve was an amazing man, leader, husband, father, friend and mentor.  I was blessed by his friendship in many ways.  He always encouraged me in my efforts to help people with disabilities on the global stage.  I miss him and think of him often.  He blessed me and many others with his strength, gentleness and generous spirit.   I know his family is very proud of this amazing man.  His legacy and many contributions will continue to help millions of people.

I will try to live up to the legacy of these two powerful role models.  

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