The Disability Rights Hall of Fame Selection Committee and NYSILC Board of Directors were honored to recognize five inductees to the 2020-21 NYS Disability Rights Hall of Fame, virtually on Thursday, May 6th, 2021. The following people have been outstanding leaders and advocates for people with disabilities in New York State, and beyond.
View the full 2021 Hall of Fame Virtual Ceremony recording here:
James (Jim) Weisman
As a young lawyer working for the City of New York, Jim Weisman represented his employer in a meeting with members of the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association who were seeking improved accessibility to public transit. He felt that these veterans were being wronged and stated this in front of his superiors during the meeting. When they suggested that he "shut up," he quit his job with the city and was offered a position with the veterans organization by 2018 NYSILC Hall of Fame inductee Terry Moakley.
Mel Tanzman is passionately committed, both to the tenets of Independent Living both professionally and personally. He believes the critical issues facing people with disabilities include economic and employment equality; affordable and accessible housing; and access to quality, affordable health care.
As a leader in the disability community, in government and in the not-for-profit world, Susan is a powerful role model for independent living, for the disability community and for women with and without disabilities. She may be best known for her work designing, implementing and then directing Access-A-Ride, the citywide para-transit program for people with disabilities, for the New York City Department of Transportation.
Edith Prentiss (Posthumous)
NYSILC member Edith Prentiss’ name is practically synonymous with disability advocacy in New York City. She played a major role in increasing the number of accessible taxis in the Big Apple through her work as chair of the Taxis for All Campaign. She has also held leadership positions with Disabled in Action of Metropolitan New York (vice president), the 504 Democratic Club (president) and numerous other organizations, including Community Board 12 (Manhattan), Manhattan Borough President Disability Task Force, Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA and New York City Transit Riders Council, MTA New York City Transit Advisory Committee for Transit Accessibility, Long Island Rail Road ADA Task Force, NYC Office of Emergency Management Special Needs Task Force, and Washington Heights & Inwood Council on Aging.
Bob Gumson’s career in disability rights advocacy started in his childhood. He received the message from his family that his blindness was merely an inconvenience, something everyone faces. He became his own best advocate at an early age, fighting alongside his family for the right to attend public school and summer camp, participate in a high-school fraternity, and play sports. He also put pressure on New York City to create a resource to serve people with disabilities, which later became the Mayor's Office for Handicapped Affairs.